(Maria is a Binghamton University Sociology major)
As someone who has never the left the U.S, I am very humbled by this opportunity. I have many mixed feelings; I am anxious, excited, scared but optimistic. I know this experience will teach me many valuable lessons. This trip took so much work to plan and for that I am thankful to everyone involved to make this happen. I am extremely enthusiastic about working with the women and children. I’ve worked with kids for a very long time and I know it is a very rewarding experience when you see children accomplish their goals. I have never been away from the country so it will definitely take some getting used to at first. I chose Malawi because of the service learning aspect and because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I hope to create an impact on them, as I know they will on me.
I want to learn and gain a wider perspective on the world. With the knowledge I hope to obtain, I would like to create awareness about the obstacles that many families face in the Binghamton community. At a prestigious public university that offers many privileges, we need to acknowledge that the world doesn’t just revolve around us. It’s important to keep an open mind and accept the fact the many other people face a harsh reality caused by years of exploitation and ignorance. The issue in Malawi that impacted me the most was about the education system for children. After doing research for my issue brief paper, I was overwhelmed to find out how corrupt the education system is in Malawi. This system hasn’t provided children with the opportunities to overcome the poverty they live in. Instead the teaching system has been very inconsistent in regards to teacher quality and this has discouraged many young children from attending. This is just one major issue that Malawi faces; there are still issues of government corruption, health care and environmental concerns that have caused famine for many years. Despite all their difficulties many families find a way to survive and that is very inspiring.
This has made me put into perspective the different benefits that we, as students, take for granted. I know that this trip will be a reality check for me and I know it will impact me in a positive way. Since I still haven’t gone through the trip yet, I am looking forward to learning in what ways we can assist the Malawians. I want to educate myself about their lifestyle and appreciate everything them have to offer us. I am taking into consideration that traveling to Malawi is more about me taking initiative and using my resources and prior knowledge to help others; as well has providing emotional support that many from MCM (Malawi Children’s Mission) may never have received before. I am honored to be traveling to Malawi and to be part of this group that aspires for an equal opportunity and more educated world.