Jenn Hollern

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Chatham University

Heinz Programming Area:
Economic Opportunity
International Experience Summary:

In the Sumer of 2008, I embarked on a journey to Mombasa, Kenya through a program called the Foundation for Sustainable Development, eager to begin an internship with Muslims for Human Rights. FSD organizes a home stay with a local family, offers a week-long orientation to acclimate to culture and language changes, and demands interns participate in an independent project funded by an FSD seed grant. These opportunities give American students a change to fully integrate into the culture of a third-world country while also developing critical non-profit skills such as grant writing, conducting a community needs assessment, and managing a budget. Although my time in-country was extremely hectic, and, at times, stressful considering the amount of work involved in the time-consuming tasks FSD asks of their interns, it was the experience of a lifetime: I learned more about myself in that 10 week period than I had in my previous 20 years of life. The differences between US culture and that of a less developed country shook my already-liberal understanding of the world-- a remarkable feat for such a small period of time. Without such an amazing experience, I would not have met the individuals of my host organization-- people I will remain in contact with for the rest of my life; I would have never met the host family who adopted me as their own; I would never have worked with such motivated, down-to-earth children that brought the beauties of life closer to my eyes; I would not have found such direction for the rest of my life. When I say it was life-changing, I mean it.