My first introduction to international education and development work was as a study abroad student to Dakar, Senegal in 2000.  That experience opened up a path of self-discovery, exploration and constant learning, primarily in West and Central Africa. Throughout these experiences, education and cross-cultural interactions have been obvious and exciting recurring themes.


Upon graduation from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where I majored in Culture and Politics and obtained a Certificate in African Studies, I joined the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a regional center within the National Defense University. In this capacity, I promoted a sense of community among participants and served as support staff for seminars in Washington, DC and various sites on the African Continent. I was greatly influenced by the

Africa Center’s ability to open and encourage dialogue among seminar participants who were as diverse as Ministers of Defense and representatives of civil society. My work at the Africa Center showed me the numerous forms that education can take and the breadth of its reach.


It soon became clear that I needed to respond to the urge to join the Peace Corps. I left in June 2003 for Gabon where I worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in local middle schools and high schools. When I left my post in June 2005, I left behind a group of students who not only enjoyed speaking English but who had improved their self-esteem and developed a strong support group among their peers. Subsequently, the group named their English club after me: The Karla G. English Club.  Recent reports show that the club is still alive and well!


In 2006, after a few months of substitute teaching and tutoring in my hometown of Windsor, Connecticut, I returned to Senegal to the NGO, Africa Consultants International/Baobab Center, which was founded by Lillian Baer, a CIE graduate. During my two years as the Study Abroad Coordinator, we received an average of 15-20 programs a year, ranging from faculty led short-term programs to year-long university sponsored programs. Under my leadership, the study abroad program expanded its serving learning focus and multiplied opportunities for Senegalese students to participate in ACI activities, including academic coursework. In addition, my work at the Baobab Center exposed me to numerous projects focused on community health and awareness-raising. After two years, it was clear to me that I needed a more extensive theoretical framework for my work in study abroad and that I might wish to reorient my efforts towards project work. What better place to pursue these objectives than at CIE!


Additionally, being back in Senegal was a sort of homecoming where I reconnected with staff at the Baobab Center, family and friends, including an old friend who liked to wear a Yankees hat. This friend and I were married in August of 2007 in the presence of my family who came to Senegal for the occasion.


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CIE Graduate