Profile: Saint Cyr Dimanche '19
Major/minor: International and Global Studies, Politics, and African and African American Studies
Study abroad program: CIEE/ Development and Globalization in Khon Kaen, Thailand (Fall 2018)
Where did you study? I was studying at Khon Kaen University in Northeastern Thailand. It has been a joy and a privilege for me to study in Asia. My experiences during the four months abroad have surpassed my expectations at every step. I have completed the following courses while abroad:
- The Human Perspective on Development and the Environment
- Directed Research/Field Study Practicum
- Social Research Methods,
- Beginning Thai I.
I also published couple of my works through a regional News Agency in Thailand. Click here for the published stories of my work and work with other students.
Tell us a little about the study abroad program you went on...
The program was called Development and Globalization. The focus of the study was on human rights and interculturalism. During my study abroad in Thailand, I obtained a much deeper understanding of the common problems and issues that confront all human being around the world. For example, I now have much greater awareness of politics, economics, and social events happening worldwide. This also helps me to understand more fully my personal strengths and weaknesses.
My academic experience has been a little challenging because I didn’t have access to the same resources I would have on the Brandeis campus. Being abroad, I didn’t have access to extra tutoring support or other tools such as better WiFi, library resources tec. The time difference of between Thailand and the United States (12-13 hours ahead) made it even harder to obtain some of my needed sources back home.
After this semester abroad, I feel that I have the capacity to develop and implement a project in a different setting. Sometimes, I felt a certain and significant sense of solidarity with whatever community/groups I was working with in Northeastern Thailand. I became aware of issues not often talked about in traditional academia in America. Through lectures, reading, and homestay visits, I was able to see some connections between the issues that we are studying at the grassroots level in Thailand and back in the United States. In fact, the lectures covered in Thailand gave me more awareness about government policies that impact community: food, security, water, land, mining, in Thailand and Laos, a neighbor country in comparison.
The community visits gave me a deeper understanding of what I had learned in the classroom and through the readings. Through interviews and exchanges during the homestays, I was able to see how those issues affect people in real life. Having conversations and exchanges with real people involved in the issues, I was moved intellectually and began to see those issues in moral terms.
Which scholarships/type of financial aid did you apply for?
I had received two scholarships and Grand from the CIEE Program:
- A $2,500 CIEE Gilman Go Global Grant for my CIEE Service-Learning Fall - Cape Town, South Africa. But the grant changed to 1,500 when the program switch to Thailand.
- A $2,000 CIEE Global Access Initiative (GAIN) Grant for the Fall - This grant covered flights and travel expensive
- In addition I had received a 1,000 fund from the MKTYP program to go toward my spending expenses
I am grateful for the opportunities this provided me in Thailand. Without a doubt, this scholarship has played a key role in achieving my international education dreams in Asia.
How did you select your program? Did your race or other identities influence your decision?
My primary plan was to go study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. However, the entire program got canceled a month away from my departure date due to low enrollment. Despite the last minute cancellation, my Brandeis study abroad advisor and I worked tirelessly
to switch the program to Thailand. So I studied in Asia by luck, not by selection.
How did your race affect your experience abroad? How about your gender/sexuality?
I did not experience any racist acts during my time abroad. I did not experience any gender or sexuality issues either. In fact, throughout my time in Thailand and Southeast Asia local people stopped me to take pictures with them every day. This is because they don’t get to see Black people, or people with dark skin often.
Overall, I had a positive experience and am proud of what I accomplished during my time abroad. In the program I met the goals of development and globalization as the program was designed to help students like myself to understand the many complexities concerning environmental, development, globalization issues and the role we students can play as global citizens. I have come to understand the human dimension of policies pursued by corporations and financial institutions. I immersed myself in the environment, developed strong leadership abilities and learned to work successfully on group projects throughout many community settings in Thailand. I gained a broad range of applied skills from interviewing, researching, and learning how to write for a variety of media.
I feel that studying abroad clearly helped me achieve my goals and develop my values in life. I have a greater appreciation for what I have, yet I can set more realistic priorities for both short and longer term goals for the future.