by Courtney Hernandez
My name is Courtney Hernandez and I am a junior at the University of Washington. I grew up in Selah, Washington, a small town on the Eastern part of Washington state and attended Selah High School. I am so excited to be majoring in Social Welfare, because my passion is helping others, it always has been since I was very little. I am also majoring in American Ethnic Studies with a focus in African American Studies. I took this route because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the different people in this world, how they came to be here, what they went through and how they have overcome or are currently working on overcoming those things.
I chose my focus as African American studies because growing up, I did not learn much about African Americans or their history at all and I was very interested. I am minoring in diversity so I can have the resources to be able to reflect on and critically think about how race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, and age interact in regards to social relations. Some of my favorite things are spending time with family and friends, WATER PARKS, being able to attend college, and playing any type of sport. I also love planning things! I have a lot of younger cousins and sisters that I have to entertain so during the summer I am always planning barbecues, sleepovers on the trampoline, movie nights, bonfire and scary story nights, and so on. We have a lot of fun. Recently I’ve had an intense passion for cooking, and am learning as much as I can from my mom. Some interesting things about me are that I’ve had my tonsils and wisdom teeth removed (wisdom teeth removed just last week!), I can’t dance, but I can step, and I have never been out of the country before so this is a really BIG and great experience for me!
Planning for this trip has been a little crazy. Since I’ve never left the US, I had to get my passport, visa, and a whole lot of other things for the first time. I have two jobs, but all these little things really added up, I even had to end up asking my family for donations. ~And thank you so much to all who gave to the cause! I really really appreciate it. The thing that was the worst was getting my shots, I am a huge wuss when it comes to needles, but I got it done. Now all I have to do is remember to take my pills and put on sunscreen and bug spray and I should be all set and stay healthy.
I chose this study abroad program first and foremost because my whole life, I have always wanted to go to Africa. But that was just the first part. This program is titled “Sankofa” which means “go back and take it” and is also often associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi” which means “It is not wrong to go back for what you have forgotten.” This program is also a self-identity course. I am African American and Mexican American and my whole life I have embraced the Mexican American identity that I have and kept my African American identity on the back burner. I did so because that was all that I knew. At my school there were no African American people, we didn’t learn about African Americans, and I did not live with my African American family. I believe that as an African American woman it is very important for me to connect with my history, my past, and my ancestors. That is where “Sankofa” sets in. I know that this trip will do wonders for my personal development. I have set out a list of things to do to ensure that I will come back a changed person. I know I will be impacted greatly, and I am so excited to meet and interact with our brothers and sisters in Africa.
Read more of Courtney’s post here on her personal blog.