Author Archives: Naina Horning

Social Innovation and Crossing Cultural Barriers: Looking Back on my J-Term

Naina Horning ‘19 reflects about his CCE Cross-Cultural Community Service Grant-funded project at the African Leadership University in Mauritius.

I spent this J-Term in Mauritius. My experience centered around a class that included six Middlebury students and six students from the African Leadership University (ALU) in which we explored the various conditions under which social innovation can occur. While the class was beneficial in many ways, the true value of the experience came from meeting students who were socially-minded and motivated to improve their continent.

Getting to know people in both the classroom and in casual settings inspired me to consider how to best impact the world around me using the education that I have received thus far as my guide. I remember my partner, Yassmine from Morocco, was so good at crossing cultural barriers and interacting with people regardless of how different their backgrounds were from hers. All in all, she taught me the value of building genuine relationships while undertaking socially innovative ventures.

I was also influenced by the book review project we completed. We read and presented on Ashish Thakkar’s The Lion Awakes, which explores the growing economic opportunities in Africa. The book and our discussion on it opened my eyes to the African continent’s potential for development in my lifetime and inspired me to pursue job opportunities all over Africa. After I graduate, I am looking to take opportunities in education in Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Swaziland, and Rwanda.

Learn more by checking out the ALU website:

Naina (Middlebury) and Yassmine (ALU) present on why and how Morocco is prime for social innovation.

ALU Group: Middlebury and ALU students pose for a photo after a group lunch session.