Penn State's Unforgettable Trip
A small group of fourteen Penn State students volunteered for a trip to SEGA this spring led by Michele “Mitch” Kirsch. According to Mitch, the goal of the trip was to “see a place that was advancing girls’ education” and to gain a “sense of appreciation for how this is done, what some of the challenges are, and recognize that there are places in the world that could use our help.” Little did they know how much they would be truly impacted by their time at the school.
Upon initially arriving at SEGA, they were immediately impressed with how structured and developed the school was and how many resources the students have. The Penn State students participated in many meaningful activities with the students- they helped teach in classrooms, played sports, learned Tanzanian dances, and even went on home visits in town. They also had a cultural exchange with some of the older SEGA students to forage an even deeper, personal connection. In this exchange the girls talked about all aspects of life including family, education, marriage, and careers. The girls on both sides were very fascinated by the comparison of life in the United States and Tanzania but, more importantly, simply enjoyed getting to know each other as peers; and despite their many differences, they were surprised by how much they had in common.
Through these many meaningful interactions with the SEGA students, the Penn State group developed a deeper sense of appreciation and gratitude for their own education. Mitch described that one of her take-aways of the trip was that “education is a privilege that many people in the world do not have the opportunity to participate in, and my goal was to help my students understand that.”
The highlight of the trip was when the Penn State group did a presentation and community outreach program on feminine hygiene. Mitch says that they were astounded by the number of women who showed up and by the many thoughtful questions that the attendees had. “This allowed the students to see the real impact that they made not just on those women, but also on the communities that they will return to.” The Penn State group delivered this feminine hygiene outreach program in partnership with the Modern Girl Program, which is a group of SEGA graduates who are focused on female empowerment. These women work together to share their knowledge with other women in their communities so that even those who did not have the opportunity to go to SEGA can still benefit from the amazing institution. To Mitch, the existence of the Modern Girl Program demonstrated that not only does SEGA provide a great education, but it brings this education outside the classroom and teaches its students to be citizens of the world and help those around them.