Study Abroad Student Profile
Dennis (DJ) Davis
Engagement on campus:
NSCS (National Society of Collegiate Scholars), H20 church, American Marketing Association
Location where you studied abroad:
Faculty-led service-learning program to Guatemala
Describe the location you studied abroad for someone who has never been there.
On the weekends we were in Antigua and throughout the week we were in Rabinal to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Antigua is more of a tourist area not far from Guatemala City, while Rabinal is a smaller community surrounded by mountains and agriculture. The journey to Rabinal is full of steep hills, curves, and dirt roads, but those obstacles don’t overshadow the incredible views you get on the ride. The streets of Rabinal are filled tightly with tuk-tuks and other vehicles. They were also filled with people in the evenings because we were there during Holy Week, where the importance of Catholicism shined as the processions paraded through.
Why did you choose your program?
I chose this program because I’ve always wanted to help others. This opportunity offered me the chance to do that while learning about a culture so different from ours.
What was your best memory from your time abroad?
I have so many great memories, so it’s hard to pick the best one. I’ve been thinking a lot about our team and how we came together so cohesively to serve a family in need. We were always doing something; you couldn’t catch one of us standing around unless we needed a break. When I think about team work now, I visualize our concrete conga line filling in the foundation of the home and working through the heat of the Guatemalan sun.
How did you afford an international experience?
I planned almost a year ahead of time because I really wanted an international experience before I graduated. Firstly, I saved money throughout my summer job and current job. Secondly, I quit spending money on some things that I didn’t need. Thirdly, I won a scholarship that helped with a portion of the expenses. Lastly, I raised money through my Habitat account by sharing information about my trip on Facebook.
How did you plan academically to be able to study abroad?
I wanted to graduate on time, so I planned ahead by using my degree audit. I had already taken a foreign language and the international business course, but my advisors ensured me that this study abroad course would help satisfy my electives.
Has study abroad changed who you are as a person? If so, in what ways?
Our service-learning program was an enlightening and eye-opening experience. I appreciate the comforts of home more. Not only that, but my perspectives on infrastructure, food, and struggle have changed. I’m going to give every effort in making the best out of what I have or receive.
How has study abroad influenced you career path?
This study abroad has positively influenced my career path by confirming my motivation to find a career that allows me to serve a purpose greater than my own. I ultimately want to use my God-given abilities to help people who can’t help themselves.
What accomplishment are you most proud of during your time abroad?
We didn’t get to finish the home, but we helped finish the foundation. By the time we left, the masons were starting on the walls. I’m sure we alleviated their workload by a large percentage.
If you had the chance to study abroad again, what would you do differently?
I would brush up on my Spanish! Speaking across cultures is such a beautiful thing. I had a great experience in Guatemala, but if I had another chance to study abroad, I would love to have more of a grasp on the country’s language.
In your opinion, why should every student study abroad?
So many reasons! You learn so much through your classes, activities, and interactions. Every day is full of learning opportunities and you’ll get to know yourself a little better too. Along with that, you’ll meet some incredible people and you’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.