Alanna Strickland

Alanna Strickland studied abroad on the Genocide and Its Aftermath in Rwanda program in summer 2022.

Alanna Strickland, senior international studies major and recipient of the O-H-I-O Education Abroad Scholarship, has been accepted into a two-year Peace Corps program to Togo. While in Togo, Strickland will be an English education teacher as well as an advocate for women and girls empowerment.

During summer 2022, Strickland participated on the Genocide and its Aftermath in Rwanda program.

“Studying abroad has really opened my mind to learning new cultures and has made me even more excited to travel the world to help others,” Strickland said. “Traveling to Rwanda increased my interest in the African continent and has pushed me to want to do and learn more about the continent.”

Strickland described her study abroad experience as one that raised her awareness of global issues and challenges to help tackle programs and allowed her to develop deeper connections with her peers and those in Rwanda.

“I think it is important to be a global citizen because of the impact you can have on communities when being well-versed in cultures, ideas and religions,” she said. “It will allow you to have deeper connections and understanding of ideas from people around you that will form meaningful bonds and relationships that will affect you forever.”

As a first-generation student, Strickland did not think she would make it to college, much less travel the globe or study abroad, and by the time she reached her final year of college, the path she imagined for her life had completely transformed.

“Coming from a low-income first-generation household, traveling was never something we did. My first time out of the country was the Rwanda study abroad program, and there was a never an opportunity for me to go on vacation or travel abroad to learn about new cultures. My major was entirely different from my freshman year, and I thought I would work in forestry. It shows how fast life can change and when your passions are discovered.”

Her advice for students who are thinking about pursing study abroad or a global experience is to not let finances determine their dreams and hold them back.

“Ohio State wants to see you succeed and they want you to experience new cultures and ideas,” Strickland said. “They provide many scholarships and other types of funding for you to fulfill your dreams. Go into your study abroad program with an open mind and learn ideas from others and use them in your own life.”

The Peace Corps is a service opportunity for people to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation. The Peace Corps assists the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained professionals, promotes a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served and vice versa.

For more information about the Peace Corps, contact Laura Joseph at peacecorps@osu.edu.

A first-generation college student, ODI Scholar and international studies major, Alanna Strickland studied abroad on the Genocide and Its Aftermath in Rwanda program in summer 2022 with support from The Boshara-Iannotti Family Scholarship for Young Scholars Studying Abroad and the Keith and Linda Monda International Experiences Scholarship.

My time in Rwanda was something that I thought I would never experience, being able to go abroad in general seemed impossible where I come from. My three weeks in Rwanda is something that I am still reflecting on and an experience that I wish did not end. Every part of the trip was memorable, even the times when I was exhausted and did not want to leave my bed.

The people were amazing, the food was delicious, and the scenery has been the most beautiful things that I have witnessed. Everyone there was welcoming and my professor, Hollie Nyseth Nzitatira, was so great. Our guide, Janvier, made it even better with just being a caring and sharing person, he is probably what I miss the most. Being able to travel abroad was important to me because of what I want to do in life.

The fact that I am an international studies major who had never even left the country seemed a little odd and traveling to a different country seemed like the only thing that could prepare me for my career goals. I am also one of the only people in my family who has had the opportunity to experience something like this and not being doing it would have been too huge of a missed opportunity. This study abroad to Rwanda has made me realize how much I want to work on the continent of Africa and has pushed my passionate to provide clean water and clean food across the world. Although the study abroad did not focus on these two aspects, being the country, you can see that access to these rights can be difficult to cope with.

This study abroad also made me realize how much I have been missing out of the world and that there are many things that I can achieve if I put in effort. Being a global citizen to me is being able to understand where you stand in the world and what you can to improve it, I hope that I can become a global citizen someday and that I believe that I am on the path to it.