Josie Cipriano

Josie Cipriano
Global Studies: African Studies & Development; French
Peace Studies
Severna Park, MD
SLU Interfaith Student Council; Singing Sinners

When I was 15, I found my passion. I spent 4 weeks of the summer
before my junior year in high school in a small village called Frank’s Eddy in
Belize, Central America. I, along with 17 other American high school students,
worked with the people of the village to build a community center in which they
could sell handmade clothing, fresh corn tortillas, and other handcrafted items
to tourists, thereby bringing money into their struggling community. Over the
course of those 4 weeks, I learned so much about myself, my community in
Belize. This experience changed my life because it taught me that I could make
a difference in the lives of other people. It fueled my desire to dedicate my
life to social justice.

So, flash forward to the college-searching process a few years
later, and it’s easy to see why I was looking for a school that offered study
abroad opportunities, valued unbiased education of other cultures, and
encouraged global citizenship. I’m happy to say that, so far, St. Lawrence has
delivered. This past semester (the fall of my sophomore year), I studied abroad
in Rouen, France, and it’s the best thing I’ve done so far at SLU. While there,
I had the opportunity to travel to Paris, Belgium, Germany, and Greece,
exposing myself to new languages and cultures throughout the semester.  I also had two Swiss-German host sisters who
taught me about their lives in Switzerland. The most memorable place I visited
while abroad, though, was Senegal in West Africa.

The week that the program took us to Senegal will always stand out
among my memories. It was the week where I first experienced  meaningful culture shock (since Belize),
where I first heard Wolof (the national language of Senegal), and where I first
traveled to the African continent.  The
people are amazing, the language is beautiful, and the culture is vibrant. I’m
already planning my trip back.

My life back at SLU after being abroad is driven by my desire to
learn as much as I can so that I can take that knowledge back out into the
world with me. I’m double majoring in Global Studies and French, with a
concentration in African Studies and Development. I’m also a Peace Studies
minor, which I absolutely love. Currently, I’m working with Invisible Children,
an amazing NGO dedicated to ending the 25-year-long war in Uganda, to raise
money for their new ‘Protection Plan’ that will save thousands of lives in
central Africa.

So, as of now, I can count to ten in 7 languages, but I can only
speak two with ease: French and English. This doesn’t mean I’m stopping there,
though. Right now, I’m trying to learn Wolof, and am hoping to study abroad in
Senegal for a full semester next year in order to practice speaking this
amazing language. I am also hoping to learn another ethnic Senegalese language
while I’m there – maybe Pulaar or Sereer,

As far as my life after graduation is concerned, I’m dreaming of
joining the Peace Corps, but after that I’m open to anything. I really want to
work in Africa, more specifically West Africa, and eventually develop my own
NGO. Whatever I end up doing, though, I know that I will have been well
prepared by all of the experiences that SLU has allowed me to have. I will
never forget my semester abroad, and I’m already beyond excited for my next