Margaret Keenan ’14
Overwhelmed. What I am feeling is overwhelmed. I can’t really wrap my head around being here, much less staying for four months.
Looking back, the first entry in her travel journal made International Studies major and French minor Margaret Keenan '14 laugh. “By the end, I was taking public transportation alone, bargaining in broken Kiswahili. Arusha became home."
Maggie’s interest in Africa as a whole was sparked during her sophomore year in America as Empire, a course taught by department chair Dr. Peter Siskind, with whom Maggie now works in her senior year as a research and administrative assistant. Her final research paper on the United States’ involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the Cold War, which she presented at the 2012 Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education academic conference, inspired her to look into study abroad options in the region and take coursework in anticipation of travel to Africa, including Dr. Jennifer Riggan’s Cultural History of Modern Africa course. Tanzania was appealing because of its proximity to the DRC and because of the experiential learning environment it offered. She felt confident in her expectations of Africa based on her research and coursework and was excited by the prospect of being challenged by a new environment beyond the classroom.
The initial weeks in Arusha, Tanzania, however, were slightly more than she bargained for. “There were so many people streaming to and fro in colorful fabrics, business suits, and t-shirts; burning trash; soldiers with AK-47s; a market overflowing with colorful produce; and hordes of children in green school uniforms shouting ‘mzungu!’ (a term for a white foreigner),” she recalled.
With the help of East African classmates and professors, as well as opportunities to volunteer and travel, Maggie learned to navigate her new environment, solidifying that interest in the culture and politics of the region kindled in her sophomore year. After completing a Capstone Project with Professor Roland Adjovi, academic director for East African programs in Arcadia's College of Global Studies, Maggie earned her Certificate of African Studies and is continuing to apply experiences from her two semesters abroad in France and Tanzania in her culminating Senior Capstone thesis project on language-of-instruction policy in Rwanda. “Studying in Tanzania afforded me the opportunity to challenge myself and grow as a student and an individual,” she reflected. “I think that should be the point of a global education experience.”
Historical & Political Studies
Easton Hall, Room 231
Dr. Peter Siskind, Dept. Chair