Profile: Amelia Katan ‘16

  • Amelia Katan sits in a hut in Uganda
  • Amelia Katan sits with a group of villagers in Uganda

Majors: Politics / International & Global Studies Minor: Legal Studies

Year abroad & program: Spring 2013 – Brandeis in the Hague Program; Fall 2014 – SIT/ Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation

Reason you chose this program: Freshman year, I immediately knew I wanted to go on The Hague program since it offered an extremely unique opportunity to study international criminal law and I had heard Leiden was a wonderful place to live. At the same time, I wanted to study somewhere that would expose me to a dramatically different culture and lifestyle. So after The Hague, I went to Uganda a year later to conduct thesis research on the application of international criminal law on-the-ground and experience a new culture.

Why did you choose to study abroad when you did:  I went to The Hague the spring of my sophomore year because I knew it was what I wanted and thought, “Why wait?” Also, I already thought that I might go abroad twice, so I wanted to leave plenty of time to work that in. I spent junior year saving money and finishing necessary courses, so that I could go to Uganda first semester senior year. This was a good approach because I was academically and personally prepared to make the most of my experience in Uganda.

Favorite class(es): I loved my classes in The Hague, but mostly I really appreciated my internship at the International Criminal Court. In Uganda, we had great guest lecturers and I really enjoyed conducting independent research.

Housing situation: In The Hague, I lived in international student housing, which was a lot of fun. In Uganda, I lived with a host family and spent the last month in a hut with two other students on my program.

Best memory: I spent one week with an African chief, his two wives, and family in his village in rural Uganda. During the day, I was treated with incredible hospitality and learned about traditional reconciliation ceremonies and the village lifestyle. At night, there were heat lightening and amazing stars to watch. I was even pulled into a traditional dance!

Greatest challenge: I definitely experienced culture shock in Uganda and would often be frustrated by sexism and strong gender norms.

What you know now that you didn't know before: A lot. I definitely have a greater appreciation for our standard of living here in the U.S. However, I’m also more aware of values, like community and interdependency that are central to happiness, but often not given enough importance in America.

Fact about Uganda/The Hague that you think people would be surprised to learn: The Netherlands has a monarchy that they’re very proud of. The king is celebrated every year on King’s Day and everyone wears orange and floods the streets of Amsterdam.

Uganda is known as the “Pearl of Africa” for its beauty and rich resources. It has a continuous growing season since it’s on the equator, which means plenty of avocados, pineapples, and bananas year round.