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Students prepare for Malawi experience

On May 25, College of Education students will embark on a journey of more than 8,000 miles. It will take them across the Atlantic Ocean, through the deserts and jungles of Africa until they end up in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi.   

This marks the second consecutive year that College of Education students will participate in the study abroad opportunity known as “Destination: Malawi.” The trip will be led by Octavia Tripp, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching. From the Department of Kinesiology to the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation and Counseling, students attending the trip come from a variety of different program areas.   

“Our program is open to everyone. Elementary education students help teach the kids in their schools, but there is also a hospital on campus and we have a pre-med student who is going with us this year and she’ll be working there,” Tripp said.  

The trip comes with a lot of advance planning. Students create lesson plans, learn basic phrases in Chichewa, the language of Malawi, and learn about all the different issues they may face when transplanted into a different culture for three weeks.  

Each day, Auburn students will live, study, teach and interact alongside the children of the Mtendere Village and Lumbardzi Elementary. Elementary education students will work in the day-to-day teaching of the children, while counseling students will work with the village’s house mothers.  

“Counseling students and faculty also help with the participants of the trip. A lot of them have never been abroad or away from their homes for three weeks.  It’s a whole transition and getting used to a culture that’s different than yours. We have sessions with the participants to help them get used to the new environment,” Tripp said.  

While the goal of “Destination: Malawi” is to create better education leaders and impact the lives of the Mtendere villagers, there are also two outside excursions available for the students.   

The first two-day excursion is at Senga Bay, where students will stay at a hotel overlooking Lake Malawi, the third largest lake in Africa. Students will be have the chance to engage in a variety of activities, such as fishing with local fishermen or walking to the market and purchasing handmade crafts. Students also attend the Liwonde Game Park and partake in an African safari excursion, where they will see everything from elephants to hippos.  

The majority of “Destination: Malawi” is spent in Mtendere working at Lumbardzi Elementary, but the excursions are a way to break the trip up.  

“It’s a way to reward to the students for their hard work. It allows them to relax and further experience the culture,” Tripp said.  

Current graduate student Brittany Smith attended the trip last year and wishes she had the opportunity again this year.  

“Malawi was a once in a lifetime experience that  not only allowed me to grow as a person, but also as a teacher,” she said. “My favorite part of the trip was interacting with the people there because they’re so thankful and appreciative. The trip to Malawi was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate career.”  

“`Destination: Malawi’ exemplifies what Auburn stands for.” Tripp said “It builds on the education students receive here. It allows them to fully experience the global community.”  

-- Victoria Webb

Last Updated: Apr 21, 2013

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