One of the first goals I made for myself when deciding to study abroad was to become more involved in school organizations. As a first generation student, making the most of my time in school is important to me and the best way to succeed at that is by joining groups. Groups allow you to meet new people with the same( and different) outlooks on life; and with some many unique and interesting types to not join would be a waste.
It was with that goal in mind that I decided to join two organizations this semester, Model United Nations(MUN) and African Student Association(ASA). I’ll admit it was hard for me to go to the first meeting, I was nervous about the language barrier and about finding people I fit with but after finally going there I realized that my worrying was for nothing and in fact had hindered me previously.
My first meeting with Model United Nations was a unique one, we spoke about Abortion rights and I chose a country that completely went against my personal viewpoints but there is something so entertaining about having to argue a point you’re completely against! Everyone was so kind and I loved it so much that by the end of the meeting I was elected by vote onto the board as a Simulations Chair person. When I was elected I wasn’t too sure what that meant and I admit I did go home and google a simulations officer. My job entails two main functions, creating the topics for our weekly events and chairing the discussion to keep everyone in order. It has been nerve wracking and exhausting at times but I love MUN and working with the people who i have grown very close to.
MUN has also taken me very far, I am writing this after being back in Norway for a short time after being selected alongside eight other delegates from my school to participate in a Model United Nations conference that took place in Manchester, UK!
I was afforded the opportunity to spend a weekend in Manchester debating topics that directly affect women, such as Terrorism and Education. I had an absolute blast and even thought it was 12 hours sitting in a room debating and learning about some unique topics I absolutely can not wait for the next one!!
The second organization I joined was African Student Association and this association has a very special place in my heart. When people speak about studying abroad, sometimes I feel as if they gloss over the feeling of “otherness” that can be very prevalent at times and I think that feeling is double for minority students. Sometimes, its hard to feel as if you truly belong and you have to grow comfortable with the fact that before people truly see YOU they see your color, they see the stereotypes of your culture and at times force you to answer for other peoples “sins” solely based on that shared trait. It can be very exhausting especially since at times you can’t be yourself but rather a representative of your race. At African Student Association I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting other bright and driven students of color who know what that feels like. ASA has allowed me to participate in some truly thought provoking discussions about things like Colourism and has allowed my to listen to some insightful lectures about things that truly affect me. I think it is important for students who study abroad to find that place, the place where they can truly be themselves where they don’t have to worry and i think that goes double for minorities studying abroad.
Even though these two organizations are completely different, they have both taught me the exact same thing. That it is scarier to be alone and not try than to try and be scared! Next semester I hope to continue to participate in these two organizations and join even more.