Basketball, Construction and Volunteer Life in Madagascar

Five weeks down, five to go!

While my first two weeks in Madagascar actually felt like two weeks, the next three weeks passed so quickly that I can’t believe I’m already halfway done with my time here. Since I’m here for 10 weeks total, I have the unique opportunity to watch many different sets of volunteers come and go. It’s been wonderful to meet and get to know people from all over the world, but it also means that most of them will leave long before I do. It’s really nice to have friends who are here for a longer period of time like I am, but I enjoy getting to know everyone no matter how long their stay is.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks, but here are some highlights.

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The Paradox of Being a U.S. Intern in a Ugandan Refugee Settlement

There are things in life that all of the reading, videos and frantic Googling cannot prepare you for. My experience providing emergency relief and humanitarian aid for newly-arrived refugees in Uganda was one of them.

I am currently residing in the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, where I spend my weekdays as an intern under the Humanitarian Aid sector for Action Africa Help (AAH), a non-governmental organization that supports communities in conflict and post-conflict situations (e.g. refugees and internally displaced people).

“The issues you will see here started long before you came and will continue long after you are gone.” This was one of the first things one of my intern supervisors at AAH told me when I reached the settlement.

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What My Homestays Taught Me About Uganda and Myself

My homestay families, in Kampala and Kapchorwa, have taught me far more about Uganda than any textbook or lecture ever could. For six weeks, I will be residing in Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda. For one week, I conducted a rapid rural appraisal and rural homestay in Kapchorwa, near the Kenyan border in eastern Uganda. Despite the social and economic differences of these two regions, my experiences engaging with local families have reinforced some of the lessons.

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My Trip to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa

The weather has been pretty cold in Germany lately, but it was especially cold this week. The temperature dropped below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for the whole week. Luckily for me I had a trip planned to visit Spain, Gibraltar and Morocco during the coldest part of this weekend, so I spent my time in 20 degree Celsius weather (68 degrees Fahrenheit) instead.

It was the first time since November that I did not have to wear a jacket to go outside, and man was that refreshing! Not only was the weather fantastic, but also the beaches were outstanding as well. Seeing the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea with beaches almost empty was so relaxing.

If only I brought swim trunks to go swimming in the water!

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Tourism as a Development Tool in Uganda: The Good and the Bad

As a study abroad student examining the social, economic and political development of East Africa, the streets have become my educator and tourism in Uganda has become the lesson plan.

I have witnessed the unfolding of tourism as a development strategy by living and attending school in the capital and largest city in Uganda — Kampala. And I have seen how tourism has a double-edged sword.

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A Letter to Remember

Dear Ghana,

I cannot thank you enough for making this one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself. You’ve welcomed me with open arms and an open heart. You’ve allowed me to explore who I am and what I want in life.

You’ve taught me that I’m stronger than I think (physically, mentally and emotionally) by putting me to the test hiking Mt. Afajato, challenging me with unexpected blackouts or rainstorms and even bargaining in the markets or with taxi drivers.

You’ve taught me to live in the moment and appreciate every given day, which should be lived to its fullest.

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2017 International Photo Contest Tournament: Round 3

It’s time once again for the SDSU International Photo contest, featuring photos submitted by SDSU students! This year we’re choosing our People’s Choice Award through a 40-photo tournament, with winners decided by online voting right here on the Be International blog. Voting is now open for Round 3 below, so pick your favorites of the 10 photos remaining!
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