2013 Boren Scholarships
Southern Methodist University
I had always been interested in working within African nations since my parents are both originally from Nigeria. French and Swahili are lingua francas in Africa. I already had a strong educational background in French, so I decided to study in the birthplace of Swahili - Tanzania. The cultural and linguistic skills that I gained through my study of Swahili on the Boren Scholarship has laid the foundation for my future career while also furthering my professional goals of traveling to and working in multiple African nations.
In Tanzania I took intensive Swahili language courses. Wherever I went and whomever I met, I was welcomed with the Swahili greeting “Karibu,” and many of the people in Tanzania whom I came to know now consider me “Ubungo”, or “one of their own.” Although I had only a basic mastery of Swahili after the first two months abroad, this compliment proves to me the importance of language and cultural knowledge gained through firsthand experiences.
The intense language and cultural experience was supplemented by an engineering internship with the Technology Development and Transfer Center in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Dar es Salaam. My internship allowed me to help implement a simple device that I created, which aimed to increase the production efficiency of milling machines for farmers. I was able to gain valuable, hands-on experience in the manufacturing process from the design stage to the ultimate production. After dreaming up an idea to help solve a problem, it was wonderful to slowly see a mental image turn into a solution that others could touch and use.
In the future, I would like to work in developing countries to decrease instability and invigorate nations toward steady progress. Putting my engineering knowledge to good use, I want to help create solutions to better the livelihoods of the citizens through the use of their own resources. I am considering joining the Foreign Service, not only as a way to complete the service requirement of the Boren Scholarship, but as a way to bring together my love of foreign cultures and engineering.
If I could give advice to future applicants, it would be to prepare yourself to learn and grow. The key to a successful experience abroad is to keep an open mind. The Boren experience pulls American college students out of their comfort zone, sending them to unique locations around the globe. This allows students to have a life changing experience that will open their eyes to the needs, culture and differences that define the world.