Olivia's Enlightening Summer of Sociopolitical Study
Organized by: Olivia Trabysh
I consider myself a Canadian American whose heart has belonged to Africa since age five. I adore humanitarian work, literature, yoga, and anything chocolate. Acceptance to this competitive SIT study abroad program in East Africa has been a dream of mine for many years. At the least, I expect this trip to validate my occupational interest in international humanitarian law. At the most, I except it to change my life.
Fortunately, from the assistance of generous individuals and scholarships I have raised 3/4s of my tuition and travel expenses totaling $12,000, but I am still $3,000 short of covering my final costs. This trip will serve many roles and impact many lives, not the least being my own. From those I will interact with in Rwanda and Uganda to those who will hear of my journeys second-hand, we will all work towards creating peaceful co-existence and more adept methods of conflict resolution.
The basic details of my trip include:
Objective: Examine the sociopolitcal causes of genocide and foster resettlement and reconciliation in Rwanda and Uganda.
Coursework: Combination of lectures, research, and fieldwork. Will attend two, one week clinics with Rwandan and Ugandan professors, lawyers, psychiatrists, NGO officials, community leaders, and priests to develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the causes of genocide and current reconciliation efforts. Will then spend four weeks in rural villages, immersed in East African culture and observing day to day life.
Excursions: Will visit the Rwanda Genocide memorial, Ntarama and Nyamata (mass execution sites), and refugee camps in Northern Uganda.
Dates: June 9th to July 23rd
For additional info on SIT and my program here is the link to their website:
For regular updates on my day to day activities follow my Facebook page:
If after browsing my trip details and Facebook page you feel obliged to donate, you can do so by clicking donate on the right hand side of this page. I am extremely grateful for donations of any amount, more so I am humbled by your support and interest in such pressing international matters.
Much love & namaste.
Timeline of Olivia's Travels:
Monday, June 16th
I have finished orientation and I am very excited for this opportunity! I just moved in with my homestay family today and will hopefully have pictures to send to you soon. They are lovely people and I am very excited to learn more about their day to day lives.
Tuesday, June 17
Visited the genocide memorial and mass execution sites today. The difficult work in my excursion is now beginning. I am currently at a loss for words to describe what I am experiencing at this point. All I ask is that you all be kind to one another, respectful, and informed. Many instances of ethnic cleansing are still going on in the world today. It is our duty to bear witness and eradicate the repetition of these instances.
Tuesday, June 24
Meet Tony: (seen in the pictures above) the bundle of energy and joy who has absolutely stolen my heart and allowed me to see the hope in Rwanda after long days entrenched in studying it's turmoil. Yesterday, he graciously included me in his First Communion celebration, along with his beautiful and utterly warm family.
Tuesday, July 1
Perfect weather & perfect views of the city on my last morning walk to school in Rwanda. Can't believe I already pack up for Uganda tomorrow.
Quick yet important update:
I have arrived home safely with an entirely rejuvenated state of mind. I am both excited and humbled to share with all those interested what I have learned. But most immediately I would like to stress the importance of learning about international situations and promoting the importance of sustainable solutions instead of initially "helping" or providing financial assistance to pressing international situations. Moreover, when educating yourself on the logistics of a situation ensure you are acting both ethically, genuinely, and intimately. Check your intentions, your complicity, and your expectations of praise. With that said, keep a look out for changes to this page and my Crowdrise page. My perspectives have changed drastically, and are continually evolving and will be documented accurately and fully soon. Big thank you to all of those who have supported the importance of my education and evolution in this process. Lots of love to all of you!!