The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV student explores elementary education in Tanzania

Courtesy / GVSU

Post pandemic, many individuals dream of traveling the world after spending the last year cooped up in their homes. For student Kira Brower, being stuck in her freshman dorm hearing stories of people who regretted missing the opportunity to spend their college years abroad inspired her to look at the programs Grand Valley State University offered.

After researching where to go and what educational experiences to do Brower decided to study abroad in Tanzania, a country in East Africa, in order to earn credits towards her capstone in Elementary Education while volunteering at a school there.

During her trip, Brower spend her mornings teaching at a local school. In the afternoon she had free time where they could explore the city and hanging out with other students.

“We would then have dinner as a group and after dinner we would have class with our faculty who led the trip,” Brower said.

Brower said they even had the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. 

In Brower’s experience, the study abroad programs at GVSU aimed to be more than just an individual trip, but also work to contribute to the overall experience of being a “Laker” and the students’ contribution to the professional world. 

After seeing education from the perspective of the Tanzanian school system, Brower said she felt she had broadened her horizons further than classroom learning could have done. 

“The world is so big and you cannot learn this stuff in textbooks,” Brower said.

Study abroad fosters the opportunity for university students to be able to experience life in the shoes of others, teaching them to be understanding, empathetic individuals with a strong discernment for the world around them.  For Brower, she learned how different daily life could look for people in Tanzania versus what she was used to in the U.S. 

“In Tanzania locals enjoy the moment when nothing is fast paced,” Brower said.

Brower remarked her professor often reminding the students of ‘Pole pole’ which is the Swahili word for slowly.

“Now that I am home I catch myself reminding myself of ‘pole pole’ to enjoy the moment I’m in,” Brower said. 

Many of the study abroad trips through GVSU are faculty-led and span a variety of disciplines. The programs encourage students to round out their experiences as a Laker by building their knowledge in and out of the classroom. The trip that Brower attended to Tanzania was faculty-led along with other GVSU students. Brower recalls how the trip allowed her to create deeper connections with everyone there, over new and past experiences as the faculty lead shed light on their knowledge of education around the world.

“I have experience and perspective that most people in my field do not have, and the knowledge I will be bringing to my future classroom is unlike anything I could gain from teaching in the United States,” said Brower. 

Brower is set to graduate in Fall 2024 with her Bachelors in Special Education. She encourages other students to study abroad, just as others did in the past with her.

“I now tell everyone I know to study abroad. The experience is amazing and so worth it,” said Brower. 


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