I have always that each study abroad program was the same. The one most advertised are the ones where you get to travel to Africa and help the children and families out. I would always see people on Facebook taking pictures with the children and having such a good time. As my college years went by, I took a course called Global Health. One of the topics that my professor discussed was the issue about studying abroad. She said that it is not all what you expect. We are entering their home, their personal space, and culture. Especially in the line of work that she did (medical anthropology) she said that when the group of study abroad people or doctors would come over to Africa they would be given medical supplies but when they left, there was very little. The supply was so scarce and not easily accessible as it is here in America. As for the pictures, many of them do not want to be photographed. Many study abroad students do not ask if they can take their picture or if it is okay to post it on social media. The whole idea about study broad has changed my perspective. My idea of helping them out is a little screwed after talking that course.
My experience all throughout this trip is me not teaching them, but rather them teaching me. The people of Vel Mari and the University of Alghero have taught me so much about migration, social justice, and multiculturalism. Everyone’s idea about traveling abroad to specific places like Europe because it’s beautiful or it’s on their bucket list; it’s so much more than that. It’s more than the pictures that people post on Facebook of the people they meet or are supposedly “helping”. I know some students were angry in the first week because they wanted to work more with the people of Vel Mari, the doctors and so on. These expectations of making a change is solely by working with the people is not always right. I was a little upset that some students didn’t realize that we have to learn more about the project and background information of migration and the refugee camps before we start the project. I think that people have these high expectations of what their study abroad experience should we and are not opened to changes or different ways of learning. I say be opened to anything that happened during your experience and be accepting of it and just being about to study abroad.