Preparing To Help Africa During Global Climate Change
CU Denver Student Studies Abroad to Jumpstart CareerMar 29, 2016
With an end goal in sight – that of helping communities in rural regions of Africa with sustainable development for climate change — University of Colorado Denver senior Patrick Woodruff knew that learning to speak Swahili and taking a study abroad trip were important next steps. To obtain help in facilitating the process, Woodruff contacted the Global Education: Study Abroad office at CU Denver, where the staff helped him with the course credit transfer and pre-departure orientation.
Woodruff’s goals were also made possible by his receipt of a substantial $20,000 Boren Scholarship. The Boren Scholarship is an initiative of the National Security Education Program and the Institute of International Education. It provides unique funding opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the United States to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Possibilities include holding job positions with national security responsibilities that range from intelligence analysts to military community coordinators to fisheries scientists.
By the fall semester, Woodruff was ready to pack his bags and board a plane for Arusha, Tanzania, specifically to learn Swahili. Prior to his departure, Woodruff had spent June and July taking beginner Swahili courses at the University of Florida through the African Flagship Language Initiative. During these two months of condensed study and language immersion, he took what is roughly the equivalent of an entire year’s worth of university language classes. Upon starting classes at the MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation in Arusha, he studied intermediate Swahili to further his language proficiency, advanced including grammar and conversation, and a class on Swahili history and culture. Woodruff lived with a host family during this time to more fully immerse himself in the language and culture.
Swahili is a Bantu language and is recognized as the official language of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. There are approximately 150 million people worldwide who speak Swahili—roughly 10 million of those are native speakers. For English speakers, it is estimated that it takes approximately 900 classroom hours of intensive instruction to become proficient in Swahili. Language skills are immensely important for students who will be working abroad.
After graduating from CU Denver, Woodruff intends to work in the field of sustainable development. He explained,
“The idea of working through a group such as the United States Agency of International Development seemed to be a great place to start my career, so I jumped all over it.”
He hopes to be working with USAID in East Africa, preferably with people in rural areas who stand to be the most affected by the world climate change. After he has fulfilled his service requirement, He would also like to attend graduate school and work toward a master’s degree in International Development.
“The Boren Scholarship will definitely help me to achieve these goals,” said Woodruff, “It gives me a good chance at acquiring a job with an organization like USAID and when coupled with the experience of living and studying in Tanzania, I hope it will make me an ideal candidate for many graduate programs.”
Woodruff credits his professor in CU Denver’s History Department, Christine Sundberg, for sparking his interest in studying Swahili and studying abroad in Tanzania. He hoped that the program would help him to grow by pushing him beyond his comfort zone, forcing him to experience new ideas and meet new people.
“I was sure that living in Tanzania would help to give me a more balanced view of what life is like in our ever-more globalized world.”
To learn about study abroad programs and internship programs abroad at the University of Colorado Denver, visit online: ucdenver.edu/studyabroad.