My name is Lisa Marie Resendez, I am a third-year Corporate Communications/Communication & Leadership major. I am on the Urban Economic Development Maymester Study Abroad Program in Cape Town, South Africa.
I chose this program because I was informed about it in the Black Power Movement class that Vice President Dr. Moore taught in Fall 2017. He really hyped up the trip and when I looked into it, I knew it was something I had to do. I was always interested in studying abroad but I never knew where I wanted to go and if I could even afford it. I was fortunate enough to receive financial support from family and scholarships, in order to make it to this trip. I knew I wanted new experiences and adventures, and this trip seemed like the perfect fit for me.
What was unexpected about this trip was the amount of free time and choices that we were given as students. We were allowed to explore the city outside of our internship and class time how we wanted to. We were allowed to create our own itineraries for our free time. I also didn’t expect to have the privilege of such unique experiences, such as going to visit Parliament and many of the excursions that were provided in our program fee. The trip provided me with many unique experiences that I would have otherwise not received had I gone to Cape Town outside of UT’s study abroad program.
What was magical about this trip was the relationships that I was able to build not only with my peers but within the Cape Town community. I was blessed to intern at a non-profit called Ikamva Ubomi. Ikamva Ubomi’s mission is as follows: Ikamva Ubomi empowers communities in Cape Town to rise above their circumstances and set the example for the next generation. It is our aim to prevent at-risk learners from failing and help them get an education that will secure a better future. We have aligned ourselves with the councilor’s truancy plan to deter our youth from getting involved with gangs and drugs. We are here to give our kids a sense of community and provide our services to those who genuinely could not afford them otherwise. We have joined other businesses, NPOs, and citizens of South Africa who share our views, to form a stronger South Africa for all. My peers and I were able to connect with the staff and fundraise over $500 for them in 4 days. Over the month, I was able to connect with my peers and my internship team and simply see the beauty and purity in their souls to help others; it was a beautiful experience.
The advice that I would give study abroad students is to not be afraid of getting out of their comfort zones and to be brave enough to put yourself out there. My study abroad program emphasized growth and you can’t grow in your comfort zone. This experience changed my life and I know it will change the lives of other students as well. I especially encourage minority and low-income students to take advantage of their opportunities at UT and apply to study abroad. There are plenty of scholarship opportunities especially in the DDCE to study abroad for their programs. Go out experience the world and other cultures, it is truly a unique life-changing experience. Don’t be afraid about crime or safety, your study abroad program will educate you beforehand on everything you need to look out for. Remember, you’re not alone; you’re with a large group of UT staff members looking out for
This study abroad experience impacted my career path by reaffirming that I want to work in a non-profit organization that helps the youth community. I am specifically interested in helping Black and Latinx children succeed and I can’t wait to be able to work hand in hand with organizations in my own community. I grew to love kids even more than I did before and I’m so excited for when I’ll be able to make large changes and help my community.
This post was contributed by Lisa Marie Resendez, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
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