Conant Neville ’14 had a good reason to study on St. Lawrence’s Kenya Semester Program (KSP) during the spring 2013 semester: he wanted to witness the historical 2013 elections, the first since the country’s new constitution was enacted in 2010.
“I knew it’d be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I couldn’t pass up the chance to witness this formative time for Kenya and the development of democracy in Africa,” the government and African studies combined major says.
In Kenya, Conant learned a lot about its complex culture and politics and also gained a lot of perspective. “The courses and cultural field components challenged me to step outside my comfort zone and engage with the people and place in ways a textbook or lecture never could,” he explains.
The most important lesson he learned was how to learn from others: “I learned how to understand people's cultures and traditions on a more human level, from a perspective that breaks down cultural barriers and encourages meaningful conversations and genuine experiences. I learned how to approach people with tough questions about sensitive cultural topics in a way that engages them on a deep and genuine level.”
His favorite experience was living on the coast in Old Town Mombasa. “The opportunity to immerse myself in the coastal Swahili culture and community and an environment so drastically different from my own was invaluable to my growth as a student and as an individual,” he says.