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Student Profile - Lindsey Allen
Lindsey Allen

Student Profile
Lindsey Allen

Lindsey Allen wakes up as the sun is rising to the crow of a rooster perched on a nearby fence. But she’s not waking up in the comfort of her dorm room. She’s nearly 8,000 miles away from Coker College in Muhuru Bay, Kenya.

This is not the junior history major’s first time out of the United States. Allen toured Germany and Poland last summer with a group of Coker students led by Associate Professor of History Kevin Kenyon. Her experiences abroad perfectly complemented the learning taking place in her classes at Coker. In fact, a key component of the tour was visiting Holocaust sites, which would prove invaluable as she returned to Coker to begin working on her senior thesis.

“After Lindsey took my senior-level course on the Holocaust as a freshman, I knew she would choose a related topic for her thesis,” said Kenyon. “There is no doubt in my mind that our study abroad trip to Germany and Poland allowed Lindsey to renew and deepen her interest in the subject. I believe visiting the actual sites of the Holocaust will help her complete a very fulfilling intellectual journey.”

But her trip to Africa was centered on a different objective. Allen traveled halfway around the world in order to participate in a major service project as part of Coker’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team. With help from members of Maseno University’s SIFE team, Coker SIFE planned to build a library to improve educational opportunities for the people of Muhuru Bay.

It didn’t take long after arriving in Kenya for Allen to understand the importance of the work they were about to do. Everywhere the group traveled, they found it impossible to ignore the stark contrast between their lives back home and the lives of the people of Muhuru Bay.

“I feel so humbled because I’ve seen how they live with so little but are so incredibly comfortable with their lives,” said Allen, “They focus on the little things in life while we sometimes get so distracted by things that aren’t really important.”

The local children especially touched Allen’s heart. It became immediately clear to her that building this library could offer the children a chance for a better life that wouldn’t be possible without access to more educational resources. She had the opportunity to be part of something so much bigger than herself that would touch the lives of countless people.

“They were so happy to follow us around and just wanted to hold our hands, and at one point I had five kids holding each of my hands,” she recalled. “I’ll never forget the children we met there.”

And Allen wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She and the other SIFE members provided much of the labor necessary to complete the library such as tearing down concrete, removing rock debris, painting and spackling. The payoff was worth the hard work. At the grand opening of the library, the group performed a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of a packed house. It was evident by the excitement of the crowd that the project had already had a remarkable impact on the community.

“My biggest hope is that they will take full advantage of the library and all the resources they have at their fingertips,” said Allen. “In those books they’ll find there is much more out there that just what’s in Muhuru Bay.”

And in that moment, Allen reflected on the many ways the people of Muhuru Bay had transformed her life in return. The seasoned traveler had once again been prompted to reevaluate her assumptions about others and the world. Admittedly, the first day or two in Africa had proved to be quite a culture shock, but she is grateful for the experience. But even before she trekked across the globe, she made an important decision to start her first journey away from the life she knew, and it would change her life forever.

In some ways, choosing to attend Coker College represented the Westerly, R.I., native’s first study away experience. For Allen, moving down south meant taking a step outside of her comfort zone and exploring ways of life different from her own. That first step away from home ended up taking her around the world.

“I think studying abroad or away from home is something everyone should try,” said Allen. “When you’re taken out of your element you learn to adapt, and you discover so much about yourself. I would do it all over again.”

For more information, contact Kyria Hoffman - 843.857.4103

 
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