Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Week Fourteen: Wrapping Up Our Semester Abroad

By Katie Wilson and Haley Henneberry

Wrap-up week was a week filled with many emotions. Students around the CGEE house scrambled to finish last minute projects and put the finishing touches on final papers, while instructors prepared lessons that culminated an entire semester of learning. Every spare second of free time was spent out on the town doing last minute shopping and ticking things of bucket lists.  The house filled with excitement and nervousness as the semester came to an end. During the week, each class wrapped up the different themes and lessons we learned throughout our four months in Namibia, making us all realize how much we learned both inside and outside of the classroom over the course of the semester.
A beautiful Windhoek sunset.
Katie’s Experience with Wrap-Up Week
Throughout my entire time in Southern Africa I have been able to learn things I never even thought I would learn about myself and the world around me.  Wrap Up week could be best described as that in the time span of a week.  Each of my final class sessions was a great opportunity to reflect on what I had learned this semester, what that meant for me personally, and how many of the themes were inner related across our classes.  It was during the reflection sessions that I also realized how much I learned over eight classes and while we had a month gap between our classes at one point (While we went to the North) I really retained that information.  I also realized how much of what I learned was applicable to my life and going forward and I’m really happy with how much of a critical thinker my classes have helped me become.  For instance, my development class has really made me aware that there is a whole lot of grey area in everything and to not only consider the various sides and aspects of things, but also when being critical of situations to remember to look at the issue from a humanistic approach.  My religion class also encompassed these themes but also examined the role of foreigners imposing religion on local groups and the various roles that the Church played in different social issues which in a country like Namibia is so very important.  I also took time to visit my Urban Host family one last time and had all my feelings of gratitude for my studies, my friendships, and my time here reinforced.  My Homestay experiences were not only the highlights of my trip but the times that what I was learning in class came to life.  All these lessons and more, are things I will take away from my time in Namibia and while I’m not completely sure how that is going to shape me as an individual in the long run; I am so grateful for how much I have grown and experienced in the last four months. 

Haley’s Experience with Wrap-Up Week
Wrap-up week gave me much needed time to reflect on the concepts and ideas I learned over the semester. During my personal reflection, one theme in particular stood out to me. One of the most prominent and, to me, interesting topics covered in each of my courses was race. Before coming to Namibia, I was up-to-date with many race issues in the United States and participated in various discussions centered on the topic, but I never analyzed my beliefs and where those beliefs came from. That quickly changed when classes at the CGEE house began. My classes pushed me to question my own role as a white, female student from the United States studying in Namibia and how my racial identity plays a role in my life back home. Before Namibia, I never thought of the ways race and the environment interact with one another or how the many history books I learned from in secondary school only illustrated one side of a larger race dialog. The most important conversation based on race that I took away from this semester happened during the final wee of classes. A few of my instructors asked the class how we were planning on continuing a race conversation when the semester ends, something I never considered. Over the course of four months, I became used to engaging in debates and conversations about race, racism, and racial identity, not once thinking when I go back to the United States these conversations won’t be an assumed part of my day. I will have to make an effort to get people engaged and be the pusher not the pushed when it comes to race dialogs. After being in classes that effortlessly wove race discussions into lessons, I now know that when I am a teacher I want to do the same. I hope that I can start a conversation about race at an early age, getting my students interested in the topic and encouraging them to take a look at their own identity and begin to formulate opinions on the topic of race. I am so thankful for the classes I’ve taken this semester in Namibia and even more thankful for the enlightening conversations and passion they evoked.  

Our time in Namibia has been a wonderful, life-changing adventure. From classes to host families to running around Windhoek and making the city our own we have grown and changed.  Everything has become interwoven with our newfound sense of awareness and appreciation for the world around us, allowing us to take what we learned in the classroom into the beautiful city around us. This semester has been filled with difficult classes and thoughtful discussions and we could not be more thankful for our time spent learning in Windhoek, Namibia. 

The beautiful city we've called home! 
This blog is the work of our students. To learn more about Center for Global Education programming, visit us at

No comments: