Jarred Kennedy-Loving '15

  • Major: Gender and Women's Studies
  • Study Abroad Program: IES Berlin, Germany

Camille WasingerWhy did you decide to study abroad and why did you decide to spend your semester in Germany specifically?

Honestly, I knew that I wanted to study abroad the moment I began classes at Bowdoin. Some of the best learning moments in my life have come during my travels to other countries. It was necessary for me to take the opportunity to study and acquire an additional lens that did not focus on Bowdoin. Initially, when looking for study abroad programs, I had a strong interest in Stockholm’s Gender Studies Program. However, the cost of that program caused me to have a second first-choice—Berlin. The course offerings at the IES Metropolitan Studies Program all focused around some form of identity (whether it was gender, sexual, national, racial, etc.). The diversity and in-depth nature of the syllabi informed my decision to apply.

How did you connect your off-campus study with your Bowdoin academics (honors project, independent study, continued coursework), post-Bowdoin plans, and/or extracurriculars, both before leaving and upon your return?

As mentioned before, the concept of exploring identity was a large consideration for my eventual study abroad experience. After my semester in Berlin, I think I became even more aware of my different identities. In the spring of my senior year, I choreographed an independent study—“endlessWriting”—that examined the concept of identity and how, through movement, we (as people) take on the perceptions that we have of ourselves and that others have of us. This was perhaps one of the most successful and memorable experiences of my entire academic career. I had three wonderful dancers—Teresa Liu, Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez, and Christabel Fosu-Asare. Their patience, collaboration, and will to understand the connection between identity and movement made for a very enjoyable and rewarding process.
Currently, I am actually back in Berlin! I decided to take some time after graduation to relax, find some connection with movement and others. What better place to be?! The concept of identity remains an important part of my interest. The movement for racial and LGBT equality will remain priorities in my post-Bowdoin plans.

What do you believe was the impact and value of study abroad for you academically and personally?

As a Gender and Women’s Studies Major, I sought an opportunity to study gender, sexuality, race, and the intersectionality of all of these and other categories in a context that extended beyond the borders of United States. Berlin is an amazing cultural center in which to explore the aforementioned concepts and issues. As a gay black man, Berlin was especially transformative in providing me the space to analyze where and how these two identities intersect. Upon my return to the United States, I was able to have a more informed global perspective with regards to my understanding of different societal constructions and the continued importance of acknowledging and accepting differences.

What advice can you give to current Bowdoin students about going abroad?

My advice: be willing to explore the world. Be open to new experiences. I think having such high expectations of abroad programs is unrealistic. However, lowering one’s expectations could make for an incredible experience. Lastly, find a way to become involved in some meaningful manner when you have settled in to your institution abroad. Whether it is through volunteering, joining student council, meeting locals and doing community work, etc. Whatever it is, be thoughtful and present during your semester abroad.

Is there anything that you experienced or learned abroad that you have integrated into your life here?

Certainly, I have to say that my experience in Berlin taught me to be more presently aware of the world and time. For much of my time in Berlin, I did gratitude exercises, in which I said three to five things for which I was grateful. I’d make a small, spiritual prayer, and then I’d do a breathing exercise. These moments helped me better process and appreciate my experience. I continue to stop and reflect every day. I think these moments can help one to process and better enjoy their experiences.