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07/23/2015

A Parent’s Perspective: On Studying Abroad in Tanzania

For many parents, the concept of studying abroad can be unfamiliar and overwhelming. This is particularly true when their child is interested in studying in a nontraditional location or in a developing country: how will they ensure that their child is safe during their time abroad?

When Joanna and Philippe See’s daughter Caroline expressed interest in studying abroad in Africa, Joanna was supportive of her daughter’s desires, but with one condition: that Caroline would study abroad through a CIEE program. In high school, Caroline went abroad through the CIEE South Korea Scholarship program, where she had an ‘absolutely amazing’ experience and discovered a passion for different cultures. In college, Caroline began studying sociology, which led her to pursue a semester abroad in Iringa, Tanzania, located in eastern Africa, through CIEE. 

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Caroline (center) with her parents in Tanzania.

Joanna says that her household has always been internationally focused; her husband, Philippe, is from France, and they have hosted international high school students during the school year. Joanna and Philippe travelled to Tanzania to visit her daughter during her semester abroad, and had the opportunity to see the region through her daughter’s eyes. “She took us through a lot of the highlights of her CIEE program,” Joanna recalls. They went on a safari in a national park, toured the university, and met with the resident director of the Iringa program. 

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Caroline and her family in Tanzania.  

        “During Caroline’s time abroad with CIEE – both in Korea and in Tanzania – she felt an ‘automatic acceptance’ into the new cultures and ways of communicating."

Caroline had studied Swahili prior to departing for Tanzania, and became fluent in the language during her time abroad. Joanna says that it was an incredible experience to see her daughter in a new element. “She thrives in foreign cultures,” she says, “she absolutely loves to travel, and has fallen in love with Africa.” Caroline struggles with some learning challenges, and Joanna says that during Caroline’s time abroad with CIEE – both in Korea and in Tanzania – she felt an ‘automatic acceptance’ into the new cultures and ways of communicating. “[Caroline] says that she finds a certain level of automatic forgiveness with being abroad,” she explains, “and it’s changed her world, she’s become more sure of herself, and just makes her want to see more and do more and learn more languages and meet more people.”

This summer, Caroline has returned to Tanzania to volunteer with the Igoda Children’s Village, a safe haven for orphans and vulnerable children from 0-18 years of age, and to conduct interviews for her senior thesis on NGOs and healthcare in Africa. After graduation, Caroline plans to work and live in Africa. “It’s a long flight,” Joanna laughs, “but it’s so worth it.” 

CIEE is committed to increasing access to international exchange opportunities for everyone, including students with disabilities. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and in partnership with Mobility International USA (MIUSA), we’re awarding 25 scholarships to students to enroll in CIEE study abroad programs.