Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gurl Goes to Africa

Hooray! This is the first post for my travel blog, where I'll be chronicling my 2-week trip to Juba, the capital of South Sudan. I'll be traveling with Sanjay Kishore, a fellow Dukie and one of my good friends, and we leave this Friday, May 18th.

Why, you ask, am I going to Juba?

My interest in Sudan started way back in middle school, when I became involved with the Save Darfur campaign. I learned about the conflict in Darfur through a program at my summer camp, and it sparked an interest in human rights that has developed throughout the years. In high school, I got involved with the AZ Lost Boys Center, which provided a resource for Southern Sudanese refugees living in Phoenix. Since then, the center has shifted its mission to leadership development and building the new country of South Sudan.

My interest has continued in college, and I've studied South Sudan as it hosted a referendum for its own independence, celebrated its birth as the newest country in the world, and struggled to define a new border with Sudan. I interned last summer with the Enough Project, a division of the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC that works to end genocide and mass atrocities in Africa. At Duke, I conducted an independent study project with the Borderwork(s) lab to track violence along the border of Sudan and South Sudan. I'm interested in the roots of conflict in Sudan and if violence has changed with the creation of a new border.

As with studying any region of the world, it's hard to fully understand a place until you've actually been there and experienced it. I want to meet with the Southern Sudanese and members of the international community that are working hard to build a new country from the ground up. I'll be visiting the newest country in the world during the first year of its existence--a pretty incredible opportunity and something I don't get to do every day. In an effort to keep my thoughts and experiences organized, I'll be blogging here every day with updates from the trip. I'll also be compiling my thoughts on articles and reports on the region and the current conflict on the border.

I'm excited to get started and I'm excited for my trip! Five days!

P.S. The title of this post was inspired by this blog... I'm hoping my trip is a bit more substantive than those. A bit.

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