Insight seeing

As a first-generation college graduate from a family of modest means, I didn’t do much traveling outside of the state of Alabama, where I’m from, when I was in college.

I’m wearing a mudcloth jacket made in Senegal.

Our “exotic” locations were within driving distance of my dad’s pickup truck and came with names like Chickasaw, Demopolis and Bayou La Batre. Studying abroad was not even a consideration for me at that time.

So the first time I went abroad was after I became a journalist and spent a couple of months writing travel stories. One of the places I went was Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa. I was curious about the native country of my boyfriend, now husband, who was born there.

I marveled at the smell of the sweet dustiness of the red sand that covers the roads there, which reminded me of rural Demopolis, Ala., where my mother was born. And I was blown away by the daily parade of the tailor-made cultural clothing of passers-by, as I could see that one of the sources of my love of bold colors, pattern and texture in my art and fashion choices is directly linked to this place. (The other source is my late maternal grandmother, a quiltmaker.)

It was eye-opening to be in a foreign place and see so many connections. I heard this kind of realization a lot from the students featured in our cover story “Engaging a worldview.”

Wheaton, through its Center for Global Education and faculty-led trips, encourages students early and often to broaden their educational experience by traveling and studying overseas. The goal is to get them out of their comfort zones, so that they explore cultural differences, see themselves in a new light and realize how connected we all are in so many unexpected ways—all while studying relevant subject matter at foreign institutions.

In this issue, we asked students who have studied abroad recently to share photos of their beautiful adventures and tell us about how the experiences have impacted them.

Throughout this issue you will see several stories and images that reflect Wheaton’s recognition of how important it is to continually offer opportunities to broaden the views of our global citizens in the making. They soon will be engaged in meeting the challenges of a changing world and will be better equipped.

We want to hear from you

Did you go abroad while at Wheaton? Send us your study abroad photo and tell us about the most valuable lesson you learned or the most meaningful experience you had: [email protected].