In 10th grade, I developed a strong interest in the environment, and I have been on a quest to save the planet ever since! I will be starting my junior year at the University of Northern Iowa studying environmental geography and French. I have been interested in international sustainable development for awhile, but I was not sure where to start. When researching summer opportunities, I was looking for an experience that would be meaningful and memorable, expand my horizons, and make a difference. However, it was also very important that my experience would develop skills that will be beneficial for my future career. I came to the ThinkImpact Institute through my International Relations professor. When I read more about the program, I knew that coming to Africa with ThinkImpact for a summer would give me what I wanted out of my summer experience and more. My acceptance into the Kenya Institute came at the right time, as I was having difficulty deciding which direction to take my life, and this was an answer. It was a risk and a challenge that I knew I had to take on. If I did not do it, I would likely regret it for the rest of my life. So I am coming to Africa this summer to figure out more about my future, to breakdown cultural barriers, to build a global network, but most importantly, to make an impact on my local community.
What excites me most about the upcoming eight weeks is the people that I will meet, and hopefully, form close friendships with that I will cherish for a long time. If there is anything that I have learned in my life, it is that the world is very small and interconnected. All the time I am finding that I know someone who knows someone. This has led to many new travel experiences, friendships, and opportunities. I am looking forward to experiencing Kenya with the other scholars, learning from my host family, and working with my design team and advisors. The people that you meet along the way and the times you have with them throughout the journey of life is what makes life so beautiful and precious to me. Joining ThinkImpact has already contributed to this life philosophy, and I am sure that it will continue in the upcoming weeks, months, and years.
From my time in Kenya this summer, I hope to transfer the skills that I have learned in my previous experiences to my to TBD project with the local community. Although I have a very limited background in business, I hope to share perspectives from my volunteer, environmental, and rural background, to design something that has a meaningful, sustainable, and longterm impact. At the same time, I want to be able to accept and embrace challenges and failures. In addition, I want to continue developing soft and hard skills in leadership, time management, and cultural awareness. I am ready to face this summer and let it move me where it is meant to move me. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that Kenya is where I am meant to be this summer.