Students inspired to study in Africa through campus theme

Traveling to Africa is an experience that many students have thought about and considered, but weren’t sure it would be worth the trip.

Africa! More than a continent is a campus theme that allows WCU students, faculty and campus organizations to use Africa to explore broad questions in health care, arts, culture and more. The theme was created two years ago as a two-pronged approach. In its first year, it focused on general awareness topics such as geography and health. Then, in year two, it focused on the study abroad aspect. Each organization or campus office that wants to participate takes a group of students to different parts of Africa.

Over 20 faculty and students traveled to the continent over the past year and gathered to give presentations on their experiences on March 28.

Among those students Josh Vance, a senior at Western Carolina University, recently traveled to South Africa through the theme’s program.

“It was the experience of being over there and to be able to work with children. Working with children has been a huge driving force in my life,” said Vance.

Vance has only been to Africa twice, but hopes to live there one day. His first trip to Kenya, his freshman year in high school, on a missionary trip is where he developed his love for the continent.

Vance began working with Samaritan’s Feet this past year and has been involved with many events pertaining to the organization on campus. Samaritan’s Feet is a humanitarian organization that shares a message of hope through washing the feet of poor children around the world and providing them with new shoes. Vance said that experience is the best way to learn.

“The best way to experience Africa, is to go there. You have to go out there and experience it for yourself and this theme is a great way to do that,” said Vance.

Campus theme committee member and program director of Higher Education Student Affairs, Dr. April Perry, said that Africa! More than a continent offers students opportunities to travel and learn more.

“Opportunities are better to take advantage of while in college. It allows students to learn about what they’re getting their degree in, but in a really different context,” said Perry.

Africa, like many other international places, is depicted a certain way by the media. Media, in general, tend to focus on the negative and not the positive. There is more to Africa than poverty and health issues.

Recent WCU graduate, Korie Bennett, said that traveling to Kenya was one of the best experiences of her life.

“Being able to travel to such a beautiful place and learn what it’s like to live there was such a breath-taking experience. It wasn’t at all like you’d think, there’s not wild animals just running around. It’s just a different way of living and I loved it”, said Bennett.

Africa! More than a continent themethough ending in May, plans to continue to connect with WCU’s community and spread awareness about the continent.


Africa! More than a continent