Table: Summary of key student information
|University:||St. Olaf College|
Tell me a bit about your back‑story: Where did you grow up? How would you define your formative years?
I grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. I spent my childhood and teen years reading and imagining faraway places.
Tell me a bit about an issue you care passionately about.
Human rights and inequality are topics I care deeply about. There is absolutely no reason why everyone in this world shouldn’t be treated with respect and given opportunities for the future. I believe that everyone is born equal and should not be victims of coincidence or bad luck on the basis of where they were born. There is so much inequality in the world, and I am complicit in the oppression of millions, just with my passive acceptance of the Western economic and political systems.
Why did you choose to do the course?
I was struggling to decide what I wanted out of my study abroad experience. I applied to this one, partially on the basis of the focused topic, but also because of the internship aspect, and I applied to a regular study abroad semester, directly enrolled in a University. I decided on this one because I knew that I valued work and academics, I wanted to make the most out of my time and I knew that wouldn’t happen somewhere rumored to be a really easy semester. I didn’t want to be just another student and the HECUA program provided more.
Was the course what you expected?
No, it was different, but in the best way possible. I don’t think I knew what I wanted starting out.
Where did you intern while participating in the programme? What did you like most about your internship and in what area did you grow the most?
I interned at Children in Crossfire in Derry/Londonderry; an organization focused on “giving children the chance to choose”. I interned in the Development Education department, which was really inspiring. I learned a lot about issues surrounding international development and inspiring change. I grew most in my self‑confidence; I now have assurance in my ability to do such a variety of activities.
What were the most challenging aspects of this programme?
The most challenging thing for me was self‑reflection. I never really considered it a part of an academic experience, but it is vital. It was difficult to adjust to that from an intellectual point of view, but it was so rewarding to understand myself and my home better as a result of learning about Northern Ireland.
What advice would you give to others considering this programme?
Just go for it! Trust me, this program is so much better than an ordinary study abroad program!
How did this programme make an impact on your life and how you think about your future?
This program has opened my eyes to many topics I never considered as well as ones I thought I knew, but actually knew nothing about. It has been humbling and empowering at once. Like the Little Engine that Could I now say to myself “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”.
My internship made me think deeply about my future career path. I have seen how difficult it is to work for peace, but how rewarding it is as well. I feel empowered to take a path in my future that focuses on issues that I care about rather than just taking whatever job I can get.