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Christa Bonin

Christa Bonin is a French and International Studies double major. During the Spring 2010 semester, Christa participated in an internship with World Vision in Washington D.C. Christa hopes to work for World Vision or another non-profit organization after she graduates in December.

As I flipped through the study abroad catalogs that I had just received in the Martha Miller Center on Hope’s campus, my mind was filled with the endless possibilities of travel, adventure, and learning that a semester abroad had to offer. Knowing that I wanted to continue my studies in French, I automatically began searching for programs that integrated the French language into the coursework and home-stay experiences. I soon realized that it is possible to study French in a multitude of settings and cultures throughout the world. During high school, I had taken a two-week trip to Kenya. Ever since my experience, I had a profound interest in returning to Africa and discovering more about the difficulties faced by many of the third world nations and peoples that are so different than my own struggles and difficulties. I longed to experience adventure and step out of my comfort zone in a way that would cause me to mature, not only academically, but also spiritually and mentally.

After studying the glossy photos and reading the various program descriptions in the study abroad brochures, I soon decided that I would spend my semester abroad in Yaoundé, Cameroon, a mid-sized West African country that is known for its incredible geographical and cultural diversity. Cameroon is technically a bilingual country with French and English being its official languages, but the French speaking population far outweighs the number of people who speak English.

Living in Cameroon for three and a half months afforded me a vast number of opportunities and experiences that I had never imagined I would encounter. I had the opportunity to learn and improve my French language skills through relationships with a number of different host families. These host families helped me to see and experience firsthand the diversity of Cameroon’s people as well as the incredible similarities that exist between people, no matter their economic or cultural backgrounds. We were all created by God and placed in different circumstances. Traveling throughout Cameroon helped reinforce this concept in my mind and in my heart. Although it was oftentimes difficult to witness the poverty and injustices that exist in many areas of the country, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity as my eyes were opened to opportunities to serve the community and the world around me.