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Security when Traveling Abroad: International Intern Shares Firsthand Account of Life Before and After Mass Shooting Incident at Westgate Mall in Kenya

International Microfinance Intern through CrossContinental.org Shares His Thoughts about Security Abroad.

Travelers seek safety and security abroad. To help ease concerns, CrossContinental.org recently released a report provided by their microfinance intern describing his experience before and after the mass shooting incident at Westgate Mall in Kenya.

Eric Simonson, originally from Minneapolis USA, went to Kenya through Cross-Continental Solutions in August 2013 to assist poverty stricken residents with sustainable development and income-generating activities. According to Eric’s interests and educational needs, a program was customized to fulfill his dream of global internship. Eric was placed with a Kenyan Micro-financing project, working with local community groups and learning about local customs and culture. In the attached video (http://youtu.be/IhN4YmZv6YM), Eric briefly talks about his work and showcases the good time he had while visiting the famous Maasai tribe in Kenya.

Such international internships and volunteer abroad opportunities help interns like Eric step out of their comfort zone and discover their true potential. Talking about his experience during the internship, Eric said, “I have lived in large cities my entire life; Minneapolis and Rome, so moving to a village was a big change to say the least. After 5 weeks here, I can comfortably say that I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else. The village enables you to truly experience what life in Kenya is really like.”

While Eric was in Kenya, there was a mass shooting incident at the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, a mere 5 hour drive from where he was staying. Eric, recalling the incident, said “After the tragedy that occurred at Westgate in Nairobi, I can see how one could be scared to volunteer here in Kenya. I, however, have never felt unsafe since I arrived. I still visit local groups and go to town without worries.”

He also expressed his appreciation for the local people and urged others to visit. “It’s the people here that have made my experience great so far. It is much easier to help people who are appreciative of what you are doing and they have been nothing less than that.”

To summarize, Eric said, “So far, the situation here in Kenya is very safe regardless of the attack at Westgate in Nairobi. Other parts of the country are safe to visit and volunteer without fear of attack.  Kenya is a great country with great people.”

After receiving many concerns regarding safety, the international program coordinators at CrossContinental.org shared their thoughts on security. “Many North Americans strive for security, but real security is impossible to obtain no matter where you are in the world. Accidents and crimes still happen. If security is the focus of one’s life above all else, then they can’t drive or fly; can’t travel out of their comfort zone; can’t allow conflicting ideas to challenge their beliefs; and can’t open themselves up to new people and cultures. It shuts down their mind, but it doesn’t actually make them safer”.

“Furthermore,” the coordinators continue, “we strongly advocate the benefits of being global citizens with adaptable attitudes and cross-cultural understanding. We strongly encourage traveling with a purpose, and believe everyone should make it an important part of their education or career strategy.”

They summarize, “Safety can never be guaranteed no matter where we are, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop us from getting out there to explore and learn. The benefits are worth the risk. We wouldn’t offer international learning programs if we didn’t think they were safe enough to send our own family. If we want to change the world, we can’t do so until we have at least seen it.”

Access free resources or plan a life-changing trip at http://www.CrossContinental.org.

About CrossContinental.org:

Cross-Continental Solutions provides affordable yet flexible international learning programs, including volunteer abroad, intern abroad, cultural immersion, language study, and gap year programs. A large variety of work placement options are available such as: Teaching, Healthcare, Community Development, Business Coaching, HIV work, Care-giving, Orphanage Work, Journalism, Photography, Wildlife, Agriculture, Environmental Protection, Microfinance, Tourism, Marketing, and more. Programs are available at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. By living and working side by side with locals, participants gain an exceptional cross-cultural experience and the opportunity to truly make a difference. For more details, visit CrossContinental.org.