CBS students Anthony Fleck, Anna Wojcicki and Jenna Christofersen were among a small cohort of U of M undergraduates to volunteer in Malawi as part of the Global Undergraduate Leadership Program. The program encourages cross-cultural communications and leadership development.
Mambo, habari za leo?
Just a little Swahili good morning from Nairobi, Kenya. On their way to Malawi, Fleck, Wojcicki and Christofersen spent a largely sleepless night in Nairobi’s international airport. “I tried to use my iPad case as a pillow on a cement floor, then gave up on sleeping and played charades with everyone for a couple hours,” says Christofersen. “I discovered jet lag is real that day.”
Making it to Maji Zuwa
The students lived and volunteered in Maji Zuwa while in Malawi; a part of the country with an active goat-lending program that’s helping women gain an economic and social footing in their community. “Maji Zuwa was beautiful both in community and aesthetics,” says Wojcicki. “It was integrated into Sangilo village in a way that kept us from isolating ourselves from the outside world.”
Encouraging gender equity
From hiking the falls up to Livingstonia, a village in the mountains, the students were able to see many parts of the country. Here, Fleck relaxes in a hammock overlooking a valley near Manchewe Falls. “I loved the mountainside hammocks we found at The Mushroom Farm Lodge on our way to Livingstonia,” says Fleck. “Once you got up into the mountains the temperature dropped, and the terrain reminded me of Northern Minnesota.”
Studies and sunrises
While traveling to and hiking in the mountains, the students also spent a lot of time near Lake Malawi. Here, the students were able to see the sunrise over the lake before heading out for the day. “I didn't mind the roosters waking me up early when the view was this incredible,” says Fleck.
While only in Malawi for two weeks, these students not only made an impact on the people they met, traveled around the country and saw new things, but they were also changed by their time abroad. Here Fleck and Wojcicki smile with one of the leaders from Maji Zuwa. “Traveling to Malawi caused me to have a lot of cognitive dissonance,” says Wojcicki. “While in Malawi, I wrestled with the idea that my worldview is not the ultimate truth and that objectively something like that does not exist."