Thea Eikin was a participant in the Connect program in 2019-2020. She is from the city Arendal in the southern part of Norway and travelled to Antananarivo in Madagascar for her exchange. Through the exchange she learned many important things and she will here share some of these things.
During the year in the Connect program I learned a lot both about myself and the world around me. I will tell you about some of these things here.
When my teammate and I stayed in Madagascar we talked a lot about why we did things a certain way. Therefore, I became very aware of who I am and how I have become the one I am today. We understood how our families have affected us and we were challenged to see that the way we do things may not always be the best way to do it. There are often many ways to do things and that is great. Because we lived in a foreign culture, we also discovered things that are typically Norwegian and did some reflections upon that. This made me very self-conscious, and made me aware of some of the larger context I am part of.
I would say that I am not exactly blessed with a beautiful voice for singing. But despite of that I was in Madagascar welcomed to sing in the prestigious choir in the church. This was something I honestly was nervous about before we travelled to Madagascar. But with many rehearsals and several concerts it actually went well. The choir became in fact the favourite part of my internship. In the choir I learned that what I previously had thought would be impossible, actually went well with some effort and help from other people. In the choir I got several good friends, and I learned some more Malagasy through the songs that we sang.
In Madagascar, I learned that it is possible to make really good friends even if we from the outside seem to have very different starting points and backgrounds. It is very possible to find things in common and get to know each other despite of these differences. People have more in common than you think. If you dare to cross cultural differences, age differences or whatever it may be, you can learn a lot from those you get to know and get some very special relationships.
I think everything I experienced during the year at Connect has influenced and changed some things in me. I will take with me all the experiences and "revelations” I had during the exchange and they will probably continue to influence me during the rest of my life.
Participant in Connect 2019-2020