Global Citizens Study in Tennessee - and Around the World!
I am a national youth leader from the beautiful land of Botswana, the world’s largest producer of gem diamonds, located in the heart of the Southern African region. Growing up in Kanye, Botswana, the values of botho (etiquette), kagiso (peace), popagano (unity in diversity) were instilled in me as the core principles that are fundamental in the Setswana culture. In all the various leadership activities I take part in, I take the opportunity to share my culture in light of my country’s values. Botswana’s love for cultural diversity is what I pride myself in and the state of Tennessee is in no way short of that.
The first time I came to Tennessee was during a campus visit at Rhodes College in the historic city of Memphis, the birthplace of rock-and-roll. Having been in the states of Connecticut and New York for most of my stay in the USA, I was excited to learn about a whole new side of the country that is different from the North East. I discovered a lot about Tennessee which a lot of people do not know about such as the beauty of the landscape, the delicious cuisine, and the vast diversity of cultures, backgrounds and race. I fell in love with Tennessee because to me, this was an untapped land filled with unknown adventures and opportunities. I became a ‘representative’ for acquaintances in both Botswana and the North East who do not know much about the USA South.
With zeal, I commenced my undergraduate studies in Tennessee in the Fall 2015 semester. I selected courses in line with international business management which included Economics and Managerial Accounting. I knew that Tennessee had a lot to offer in the business field more especially because of the multi-billion international companies based there such as FedEx. I also took some Urban Studies courses to learn more about the culture in Tennessee, USA and the rest of the world. This combination gave me a different perspective and I got to understand the world better in a different view. I got to attend many activities from music festivals to museum exhibits across the state from Memphis, to Nashville and Knoxville through both school-related and personal excursions which made my experience here even grander.
The new connection I formed with Tennessee and the rest of the world inspired me to establish a United Nations chapter at my college in the Spring 2016 semester. The new establishment spurred more conversations about culture and diversity throughout the campus, the city and the rest of the USA as my team and I worked with the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA) with the aim of promotingsustainable development goals. Now, many students will get the chance to serve the world with the United Nations Organization through this chapter. This is a very great achievement I am proud of, considering the fact that, currently, there are only two such chapters in Tennessee and I made historic input thereby helping make the world become a better place. This is to show that Tennessee offers great opportunities for student leaders like me to enjoy.
Another opportunity I got here was a chance to study at the University of Oxford in England during the Fall 2016 semester on the European Studies program, which features courses including Classics, Philosophy, Greek and Roman History and Literature, and Ancient Architecture. Students on this program study at the British university and visit ancient sites in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Germany, Belgium, and Turkey. I chose this program for three reasons. Firstly, more international exposure – I got to learn more about different cultures in many countries I have never thought of visiting. Secondly, the unique academic experience – While enjoying my liberal arts education, I got to have a taste of the best European education in one of the best universities in the world. And thirdly, personal development – Having seen and done it all in this program I feel a lot more like a global citizen and a well-informed leader. I am more independent, knowledgeable, and experienced than I’ve ever been before getting this opportunity. I do not think I would have had such an opportunity if I did not come here.
Tennessee surely has a lot to offer. I am still waiting eagerly to see what comes next. I strongly encourage adventurous students to come and study in Tennessee no matter their culture, where they come from, or what their life goals are. There are many opportunities waiting to be grabbed.
Guest Blogger, Seabelo John, Rhodes College Class of 2019