A Reflection by Morgan Brown

My study abroad experience in Senegal helped fulfill a long-held dream of mine. As an African American, tracing lineage on either side of my family comes with feelings of sadness when we eventually hit a roadblock and can no longer go any further. Slavery, as many of us have learned, broke many familial bonds that existed. Mothers and fathers were taken from children, and families were broken apart to never see each other again. Record keeping only recorded names that were given to the slave and how much they were sold for. Tracing lineage past enslavement is tough and written records are very hard to come by and sometimes aren’t easily obtainable. For these reasons, a personal goal of mine was to always travel to Africa. Since most slaves were taken from West Africa since it was along the coast, I knew that the day I sat down and started tracing my roots it would lead me somewhere along the coast. My goal, originally, was to travel to the country/countries where I found my roots, but when the opportunity to travel to Senegal came along, I jumped at the opportunity. Finally having the chance to travel to Africa is something that I will never forget.

      To any future students looking into studying abroad during undergrad, I say do it. Don’t think about the what ifs, just do it. Before my trip, I did get very nervous, and I was debating going on the trip. As an International Studies major, studying abroad is required so I knew backing out was, honestly, not an option. But I was also nervous to be so far away from home and knew an international trip is so much more different than a domestic trip. But, when I arrived in Senegal, all of the doubts that filled my mind were gone in an instant. The journey I went on with my group, exploring, getting to know one another, and immersing ourselves in the culture is something that I never thought I would experience. The cultural exchange that happens during your study abroad can broaden your horizons and expand your understanding of the world.

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