Winds of Change

Written by SIT Study Abroad Senegal alum Clint Smith

I studied abroad with the SIT Study Abroad Senegal: National Identity and the Arts program during the spring of 2009. My time in the small West African country profoundly impacted my life and gave me a different perspective on how I see both myself, and the world around me. The people I met, places I saw, and experiences I had will be with me forever.

After being inspired by the many artisans, painters, novelists, and poets we met over the course of the semester, I chose to take on the ‘creative’ option for my independent study project. My goal was to articulate my experience in Senegal through a series of spoken word poetry pieces. One of the pieces I wrote, titled “Winds of Change,” expressed the sense of helplessness and internal conflict that I experienced during our interactions with the child beggars who frequented Senegalese street corners.

As a result of my time in Senegal, I knew that I wanted to return to Africa after graduating from Davidson College. After graduation last spring I moved to South Africa, where I currently work for an NGO in the township of Soweto called Grassroot Soccer. We use soccer as a means to promote awareness and education about HIV/AIDS.

Here in South Africa, I have remained active in the spoken word poetry scene, and after performing the Winds of Change piece at a local poetry slam competition in Johannesburg, I was approached by the director of an organization called Mobilitate. He explained to me that they were trying to create a website that would increase social and civic engagement amongst South Africans, and that they wanted to use my poem as a means to spread the word.

A few weeks later, I got together with the ‘Mobilitate’ team for a weekend of collaboration, filming, and some really thought-provoking discussion. The final product is an awesome visual supplement to the poem I wrote in Senegal.

Having been part of SIT, a program that places students in developing countries throughout the world, my poem attempts to speak to one of the most interesting and challenging aspects of our abroad experience. I hope that other SIT students, many of whom have had similar experiences, will be able to resonate with its message.

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This entry was posted in Field Notes, Global Citizenship, Inspired To Act, International Development, international exchange, SIT Study Abroad, Video. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Winds of Change

  1. David Thompson, PIM says:

    Very affecting. The needs of the poor and sick throughout the world do leave us with a feeling of helplessness. The only way to respond is to do the little things we can to make a difference.

    Thanks for such a moving and poetic message, Clint.

  2. Claire says:

    That was so powerful. I really appreciate that kind of an expression, it really hits me differently than watching someone on t.v. talk about it….well done and thanks. It made my motivation to do my bit of good even stronger.

    • Avatar of alejandra says:

      Thanks for your comment, Claire. Clint’s work is extremely powerful. We are proud to have contributed to his understanding of himself and the world. Obviously, he will continue to make meaningful impact via his work in South Africa.

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