SEGA Study Abroad Program – A True Success
Form 3 Students Visit US for Academic & Cultural Exchange
For the past 5 weeks, we have been lucky enough to have 2 visiting SEGA students participating in a cultural and academic exchange in the Boston area. Jesca and Yustina are both Form 3 students who were selected by SEGA’s faculty to partake in this study abroad program. Known for their leadership skills, excellent behavior, proven affinity for the English language, and openness to new experiences, SEGA’s teachers believed Jesca and Yustina would thrive in a foreign environment and they couldn’t have been more right!
The goal of the exchange program was threefold. First, to enroll the girls in an intensive English program to strengthen their language skills; second, to introduce them to a different culture and third, to give Nurturing Minds’ supporters the opportunity to meet ambassadors from the school. Needless to say the program was a huge success on all fronts.
Arriving just before Halloween, Jesca and Yustina had the opportunity to experience American’s busiest holiday season — from collecting candy door to door, partaking in Thanksgiving day feasts and setting up Christmas trees, the girls embraced not only foreign holiday traditions, but also everyday cultural differences with natural grace and interest. Everyday conveniences we take for granted – from drinkable tap water, elevators, huge supermarkets with endless aisles and the subway – were all new concepts for the girls, but they adjusted quickly! Perhaps the biggest challenge was adjusting to American food which is very flavorful and diverse in contrast to simple Tanzanian staples such as rice, chapati and ugali.
During their time in the US, Jesca and Yustina took daily English classes at the Oxford House College in downtown Boston. The girls loved their classes and their English improved substantially during the course. Studying at Oxford House College also introduced the girls to other international students from all different backgrounds – an experience that gave them a new perspective on the world and English language.
One of the highlights of the girls’ trip was a tour to many cities on the east coast where they met handfuls of Nurturing Minds’ supporters and were able to explore the cities. Beginning in Boston at the annual African Evening event, followed by a trip to Connecticut, it was clear that the girls were confident and relaxed speaking in large groups of people. Yustina and Jesca shared their past, their experience at SEGA and their aspirations at each event. The girls were natural ambassadors for SEGA and everyone loved hearing them speak.
Following Boston and Connecticut, the girls traveled to New York City with their host families. Between the skyscrapers, the Statue of Liberty and other quintessential sights, the girls were captivated by the city. New York certainly surpassed their expectations and was a true highlight of their stay.
Yustina and Jesca wrapped up their trip by attending Nurturing Minds’ events in Philadelphia and DC before heading back to the Boston area. The welcome the girls received from supporters at all the events was heart warming and sincere. Also, the impact the girls had on everyone they spoke to was just as impactful.
Between their English classes and various Nurturing Minds’ events the girls and their host families squeezed in as many other fun experiences as they could — they visited museums, aquariums, middle schools, architecture firms and more. Philadelphia cheesesteaks and a visit to Med Science were other particular highlights!
By the time it came for Jesca and Yustina to return to Tanzania their English had improved, they had seen cities they’d only ever heard of, they had connected and shared their story with Nurturing Minds’ supporters of all ages, and they had tasted American culture. It was an influential trip for everyone involved.
Based on the success of this study abroad program, it is an opportunity we hope to do again in the near future. Thank you to all who welcomed Jesca & Yustina with open arms.