Study Abroad is 'Learning You Can Touch and Feel'

UTA delegation reflects on memorable three-week study abroad experience in Kenya.

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2023

Karla Arenas-Itotia, second from right standing along back rowLynzie Ferguson’s recent study abroad experience in Busia, Kenya, with her fellow Mavericks was a chance to experience firsthand whether being a traveling social worker is a career she wishes to pursue.

“Seeing what their culture means to them through the experiences they provided us opened a door into their world that you cannot get from a book or by sitting in a class,” said Ferguson, a graduate student in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Arlington. “The care and the concern everyone showed for us in our short time there was like nothing I had ever experienced in my travels before. It felt like we became part of their family.”

Ferguson was one of 13 Mavericks who, along with School of Social Work faculty members Eusebius Small, Karla Arenas-Itotia and Tracy Orwig, engaged in a rich exchange of experiences on their trip abroad. The trip was the result of a grant by the U.S. Department of State’s Increase and Diversity Education Abroad for U.S. Students Program that was awarded to UTA last year.

The UTA delegation partnered with the Collective for Orphan Care and Education to provide learning activities, books and supplies to three schools in Busia. For some of the Kenyan students, it was their first experience with technology in the classroom.

Karla Arenas-Itotia, far left “There was this beautiful dialogue and exchange of culture and ideas in the most civil and magical way,” said Arenas-Itotia, who is also enrolled in UTA's Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. “We weren’t there to just take. We were there to give and to serve. I think that was something really beautiful about this trip.”

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