To Senegal and Back: Kristen’s Story
The Circle of Sisterhood Trek to Senegal truly changed me – my faith, my emotional strength and my feelings about the way I live will never be the same. It is amazing how much I learned in the one week I was abroad. Both the village of Ndoffane Boure and the fourteen sorority women from across the country taught me more about myself than I could have ever envisioned.
Over the course of a week, I started to understand how incredibly privileged I am to live in the United States. Here, it is legally required that children attend grade school. It is also encouraged to graduate high school and venture on to college. In Senegal, a woman would be fortunate to have the opportunity for any schooling. This hit me hard. How can one country mandate that women be educated, while another lacks a universal education system completely?
The Senegalese society has numerous barriers to education for its women. While in the village, I saw first-hand the roles of a woman. Each woman serves as a mother, a worker and a homemaker. It is hard for Senegalese women to find the time to be a student, let alone the means. Through speaking with the mothers, I learned that despite all the barriers, they do desire to be educated. However, they know that their education might come at great expense. Who would take care of their children? Who would manage the fields and make the meals? Still, I believe that a vital part of the path to education has already been established. The women want to learn and they want their children to go to school.
Education is absolutely necessary if we hope to solve numerous problems in underdeveloped countries. According to womendeliver.org, an educated woman is less likely to tolerate domestic abuse. An educated woman is less likely to lose a child to malnutrition. Most importantly, an educated woman is more likely to send her children to school. Grade school educated women in Senegal are more likely to continue their education at a university, find careers that make them happy, and create healthier lives for their families.
The Circle of Sisterhood Trek opened me up to all the ways I can continue to make a difference in the world. I am now more passionate towards women’s education, and the desire to keep changing the world. I plan on speaking publicly to the sorority community at my university in order to spread the word about the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation. I also want everyone to understand the possibility of experiencing a Trek of their own someday. I have no doubt that with the help of the sorority women I am surrounded by each day, we will continue to do great things both locally and abroad. One World. One Sisterhood.
Kristen Koniewicz is a student at the University of Illinois and is a proud member of Kappa Delta. She is currently serving as vp scholarship for the university’s panhellenic.