To celebrate International Education Week 2017, WES Advisor asked readers to send submissions to our annual essay contest.
This year’s prompt was inspired by a quote from St. Augustine:
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Contributors wrote about how studying abroad has enriched their lives and expanded their worldviews.
We received a number of excellent submissions, with many of the essays describing positive, eye-opening experiences that highlighted the transformative power of studying abroad. We would like to thank everyone who participated in the contest!
Congratulations to our four winners: Olufemi Erinoso, Chiemeka Donald Ewulu, Ikenna Mbakwe, and Trishnee Bhurosy.
Below, read the second-place essay by our runner-up: Chiemeka Donald Ewulu. He traveled from Nigeria to study Educational Psychology at John Carroll University in the U.S.
What an Opportunity!
Whether exploring the world vicariously through the stories shared by others or literally through travels, the words of St. Augustine—a North African Christian Theologian and Philosopher—are as true today as when he first wrote them in the 5th century. Studying abroad in Amerca has enriched my life by deepening my pastoral and spiritual experiences, broadening my intellectual outlook, enhancing my worldview of diverse cultures, and enlightening my understanding of human nature.
My Pastoral and Spiritual Experiences Have Increased
Residing at a church rectory has afforded me the singular opportunity of living in a community of priests where love, laughter, prayer, and friendship are regularly shared. From their diverse and vast experiences, my knowledge of priesthood is widened. In particular, I have come to realize and appreciate that we can approach God in solemnity and quietness—quite different from the exuberant style of praise in Nigeria. Although prior to studying abroad I thought it might, the color of my skin never made a difference to my new church community as we all appreciate the common humanity we share.
My Graduate School Experiences at a Jesuit University Have Been Enriched
Although the education systems in Nigeria and America are two worlds apart, the student-focused style of teaching here can be transferred home where it is curriculum-focused. My advanced studies in Educational Psychology have not only broadened my intellectual outlook on human development and growth, but also have complemented my undergraduate studies in philosophy and theology. As a result, I developed an interest in exploring the relationship between human development, existential psychology, and spiritual growth as a new paradigm centered on the holistic approach to human study.
My Worldview of Diverse Cultures Has Been Enhanced
The greatness of America, despite its challenges, is impressive. What tears other countries apart becomes the source of strength and progress here. As a country with a cool conglomeration of distinctly different people from culturally diverse ethnic backgrounds, I am regularly presented with (and embrace) opportunities where I meet people from Italy, Ireland, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Latin America, and Asia—all in one community!
My Understanding of Human Nature Has Been Enlightened
As a developing country, Nigeria is riddled with many socio-economic and political challenges. The dearth of infrastructures, unbridled corruption in the political sphere, and lack of opportunities for dream realization often cause Nigerians to bemoan their fate and fantasize about the western world as the perfect world with perfect citizens.
I have come to realize, however, that human nature is the same everywhere—even the inherent tendency toward evil. The difference in America, however, is the rule of law. America is a functional society because law is applied to deter and hold those accountable who choose unwholesome or unacceptable human behaviors. Developing countries thrive in impunity and reckless disregard for law and order; they’re held down in inertia.
I have added many chapters to my life this year because of studying abroad. My life has been enriched spiritually, intellectually, socially, and emotionally.
Congratulations again to our 2017 essay contest winners and thank you to everyone who participated!
Are you interested in writing articles about your study abroad experience in the U.S. or Canada for the WES Advisor blog? Sign up for our WES Ambassador Program.