Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
name is Allysa Houle, I am a senior from Childwold, New York. I am majoring in
Biology and minoring in Chemistry and African Studies. I studied abroad in
Kenya the Fall semester of my junior year, and had a life changing experience!
While abroad, I took four classes in Nairobi, two of which were required: Swahili (required), Biodiversity Conservation and Management in East Africa, Gender Issues in Modern and Traditional Kenya, as well the core course Culture, Environment, and Development in East Africa (required). The core course included several field components that effectively integrated what we were learning about in the classroom to what we were experiencing first-hand. I was able to engage in a rural homestay in the village of Meru; become immersed in the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Hadza in Tanzania; stay with an urban homestay family in Nairobi; travel to Amboseli and spend the night in a traditional Maasai homestead; and take a trip to Mombasa to learn about how religion has impacted the Kenyan Coast and its cultures.
At the end of the semester I spent my month long Independent Study in Eldoret, Kenya working at The Sally Test Pediatric Center, a program which stems from AMPATH and is located within the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. The Sally Test Pediatric Center provides children and their caregivers with support and prepares them for medical procedures within the hospital. I spent most of my time engaging and interacting with the 15-20 children who attend the center daily, giving them as much love and attention as possible. I also visited an AMPATH HIV/AIDS clinic with Dr. Joe Mamlin, an opportunity that allowed me to observe a side of healthcare that I had never seen before and to learn the challenges that are faced when providing healthcare in Kenya.
Being involved with AMPATH was extremely rewarding. This organization has stepped up to the plate in trying to lessen the HIV epidemic, with an attitude that their work will succeed despite the fact that they are at daunting odds; I am so grateful to have had this experience, for it has truly changed my life.