The Beginning of an Adventure: Crushing Fears to Live My Dreams

Alexis Lenderman
Majors: Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Leadership
University of Cape Town, South Africa

As a foster child, there is always the dream of getting away, traveling, seeing something more and better than the circumstances that you are in and you have no control over. It can be understood that, inevitably, foster children have to learn to be independent and resilient in order to survive.  However, actually carrying out these dreams and aspirations can be very difficult for those individuals who feel that those things are out of our reach and impossible to accomplish.

I pushed aside all of my fears and insecurities about traveling abroad when I decided to do a short term faculty led study abroad trip to the Dominican Republic. This was the first time I have ever been outside of the United States, and although I got a lot out of this experience, I feel that I missed out on a chance to actually study at a university and be a part of another culture. As I’ve learned, studyipic of alexisng abroad gives you more courage.  If you can travel to other countries, then it gives you a sense that you can travel anywhere and learn anything you set your mind to.  It helps set you free to take on new challenges you never thought you might attempt. It helps you see that in other people as well.

To study at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa is a perfect fit for me as an Entrepreneurship and Nonprofit Leadership student. This is because, while I am studying at the University of Cape Town, I will be able to volunteer in the community and do a Social Entrepreneurship internship with SHAWCO, which is a Non‐Governmental Organization (NGO), whose mission is “To Practice and promote responsible citizenship in the South African context through health, education and social entrepreneurship initiatives.” All of the courses that I will be taking at the University of Cape Town are directly related to my major and minor, such as “Social Justice and Inequality,” “Business Ethics,” and “People Management.” There are also more than 100 “Student Societies” that are essentially clubs, that I can choose to participate in, ranging from academic to faith, to political.

I specifically chose this program for many different reasons, one of them being that it is directly related to my personal and professional goals of learning other cultures, doing an internship in an international NGO, and making a difference in a community. All of these things can be fulfilled while on this trip. On top of those, I was recommended to this program specifically by my mentor/professor, who happens to be the Program Faculty Director for the Cape Town Study Abroad Program. I can learn from the news, movies, and books, but there is no true appreciation for other cultures, languages, regions, etc. without actually living and studying in another region of the world and being immersed in the livelihood of the locals.

Growing up in the United States, specifically Michigan, I have a very narrow understanding of what the world is like, realistically. American culture is different from other cultures, both in good ways and not so good ways. It may be diverse in America, with many different cultures and languages, but with problems such as individuals sticking with their own culture or being skeptical of outsiders, it can be very difficult to actually learn from these individuals. Furthermore, there is no better opportunity to discover new ideas, perspectives, and opinions than to partake in a study abroad opportunity, especially one where I will be studying side by side with locals and individuals from around the world, as well as doing an internship in the local townships working within the community.

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