Daniel Denegri Estrada completed most of his schooling in Cranbrook, but as a College of the Rockies student he’s taking advantage of opportunities to take his learning abroad.
Daniel is currently a student in the College’s Bachelor of Business Administration: Sustainable Business Practices program. It was in an Accounting class where he learned of an opportunity to take part in a two-week field school in Shinyanga, Tanzania, through a partnership between the College and Tanzania’s Vocational Education and Training Authority. In April 2017, his participation was officially approved.
“I was absolutely stunned,” he recalled. “I was elated. That whole summer leading up to the trip, I was just buzzing. I couldn’t wait to get on the plane. Even though, with layovers, it was almost 40 hours of flying, it was absolutely worth it.”
Though international travel can be expensive, finding funding to help make the trip possible was not a problem for Daniel.
“I received funding from the College and an Irving K. Barber International scholarship which covered my travel costs. There are definitely resources available to help cover costs for international experiences.”
While in Tanzania, Daniel and other College representatives took part in gender equality research. They talked with and surveyed students at local schools. The group then compiled a report making recommendations for improving gender equality within Tanzanian post-secondary institutions.
Though the language barrier made connecting with the Tanzanian’s a bit of a challenge, Daniel found he was able to form a bond through a shared love of sport.
“They had a soccer team that would train every afternoon,” he said. “I play quite a lot of soccer myself so I decided to go out to the field with a ball. Within 10 minutes there were 22 kids ready to play a full-on match. It was incredible. Even though I couldn’t speak a word of Swahili, I was able to interact with these student through sport. After that, I found the students were more willing to open up to me and we were able to get some great information during our surveys.”
The trip made such an impression on Daniel, he’s unable to name just one highlight.
“The first highlight was landing in Kenya when I realized I was actually on the continent of Africa,” he said.“Then arriving at the school and meeting the students. They were super friendly, right from the get-go. And then, just before we left, I was able to meet some jewelry students. They showed me their gem cutting process and how they polish stones. There is a very rare stone called tanzanite there and they gifted me with a stone, a bracelet and a chain. Whenever I look at those gifts, it takes me back to when I was at the school.”
The experience has proved invaluable to Daniel, both in terms of his education and his future career.
“It really taught me how our skills are applicable on a global level. With the world becoming as globalized as it is, the cross-cultural communication skills I learned on that trip are so valuable,” he said. “And it looks really good on a resume. I recently got a new job and they told me one of the main reasons they chose me is because of my experience of communicating abroad.”
It was not all work and no play while in Tanzania, however. Daniel was able to attend a match between the country’s two best soccer teams. The College group was also able to spend a weekend in Mwanza, one of the largest cities in Tanzania, located on Lake Victoria.
“It was really beautiful there,” he said. “I spent a lot of time just wandering around, checking out the marketplace. I brought home some traditional masks that I’ve always admired. It was just a wonderful experience.”
If given the opportunity, he would love to return to Tanzania.
“I could definitely see myself going back. I plan to work in the financial field so if an opportunity were to arise where I could go back to Tanzania or do some sort of projects in Africa, I feel the experience I had there would provide a good base to work from.”
Stay tuned in January to hear about Daniel’s next international education experience.