My experience in Malawi has been humbling, life changing, and I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to be able to learn from the people and the country of Malawi.
The service learning project through Binghamton University gave myself and 19 other students the opportunity to provide different workshops to children who attend the Malawi Children’s Mission. The Malawi Children’s Mission is a non-governmental organization that caters to providing education, and basic support to children who have been orphaned by either one parent or two in three surrounding villages. The workshops included but was not limited to: career motivation, young women’s empowerment, marketing and branding for a soap business, arts & crafts, and much more. During our time in Malawi, we were also fortunate enough to immerse ourselves through different activities such as attending a church service, visiting Mumbo Island, a private Island located by Lake Malawi, and experience going on a safari in the Motherland.
My first few days were a little nerve wrecking as I was trying to adjust to sleeping with a
mosquito net over my body and getting used to being so far away from home. The people at Malawi made us feel so welcomed that in just a few days we stopped being home sick, and started feeling like we had a new home. The food was amazing, and to my surprise, KFC tastes a lot better in Malawi than it does in NY. We also had very authentic Italian food during our stay there, and it was the best Italian food I have ever had.
The children we worked with is what made the experience most enjoyable. Those children transferred their joy and peace immediately onto us. From day one, they taught us different chants, different songs, different games, and they even tried to teach us Chichewa, the main language used in Malawi. They infected us with their contagious smiles, their beautiful laughs, their joyful songs and dances, and their pure hearts. They were willing to learn what we had to teach them, and they taught us things in the end as well such as never letting your peace and joy be determined by your situations. It was so hard to say goodbye to them because the reality is, some of us might not ever be able to physically make it back to Malawi, but luckily we are able to still make a difference by donating and making contributions, as well as stay updated with them through social media on their Facebook page.
My time in Malawi was not only crucial to my professional development, but my personal development as well. Being in Malawi increased my social work skills, and it also gave me the opportunity to connect with individuals in a way that I have never connected with anyone before. A piece of my heart will always remain in Malawi, and the people and experiences I have encountered there are something that I will hold onto and cherish forever.
Phylicia Green, a Social Work graduate student, studied on the Malawi: Service Learning and Community Development program during summer 2017.