Lessons in World Citizenship from the Malawi Abroad


THIS JUNE, PRINCIPIA COLLEGE STUDENTS VOYAGED TO THE CONTINENT OF AFRICA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 23 YEARS. The Malawi abroad, led by Political Science professor Dr. Sarah Andrews (US’03, C’07), took a group of five students to the geographically small but politically complex southern African country. Over the course of a month, the students traveled to three different cities in southern and central Malawi, as well as surrounding rural areas, researching the differences between urban and rural living with regard to culture, values, economics, education, and more.

The students spoke to local citizens, tribal leaders, and members of Parliament to expand their understanding of these complex issues and how they’re being addressed locally. While in the city of Blantyre, they teamed up with students from the Catholic University of Malawi to conduct field research in urban and rural settings. After analyzing the data, they presented their findings on urban-rural linkages and urbanization.

Augmenting the scheduled learning was an unexpected lesson in world citizenship: how can we support our neighbors without taking away their autonomy? After Cyclone Freddy devastated parts of the country in February, the Principia delegation took guidance from their local contacts on the best ways to responsibly help those affected by the storm. Tapping into the Principia community, the abroad raised enough money to buy 90 bags of maize flour (40kg/bag) for those in need. The maize, which was purchased locally to help bolster the economy, was delivered to communities in the Blantyre area of Malawi.

“I’m hoping that students come away with a deeper sense of nuanced thinking about a country like Malawi,” said trip leader Dr. Andrews. “There’s so much more to appreciate about these countries. Study abroad programs are such a great opportunity to further develop intercultural skills, and the ability to navigate intercultural relationships.”