Once you get to traveling, you become addicted to the challenge of finding comfort in the people and places of previously foreign lands. That all started for me while studying abroad...
Northampton, MA (PRWEB) May 01, 2013
Kris Holloway, Director of University Relations at the Center for International Studies (CISabroad) and accomplished author was featured as the sponsored speaker during Marietta College's International Week this past March. Holloway gave a memorable presentation about her life-changing experience as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa and how it influenced her narrative, "Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali." Holloway focused on how becoming a “global citizen” starts at home. She encouraged attendees to get involved with local aspects of the larger global community, which oftentimes leads to more engaging and stimulating experiences further afield. Her own experience hosting international exchange students sparked her interest in new lands and cultures, and her journey began when she participated in a study abroad program.
In a follow-up interview to her Marietta College appearance, Holloway stated:
“Once you get to traveling, you become addicted to the challenge of finding comfort in the people and places of previously foreign lands. That all started for me while studying abroad, which was an experience that continues to profoundly impact me to this day. That’s why I do what I do, encouraging young adults to expand their horizons, knowing those who choose to do so will be forever grateful that they took the leap.”
Kris studied abroad in Paris as an undergraduate, perfecting her French and expanding her horizons to prepare her for her next challenge abroad: a Peace Corps assignment in Mali.
Kris served in the Peace Corps in Mali from 1989 to 1991. She initially intended to apply her environmental studies education to promote environmental sustainability while increasing access to natural resources in the West African nation; however, upon realizing her host village of 6,000 people had only one healthcare worker, she quickly acknowledged the need was greater to assist with the villagers’ physical well-being. The sole healthcare worker was Monique, a 25-year-old midwife, with limited education and only informal training. Mali has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world - one in 12 women dies while giving birth.
Monique, a mother of three herself, labored tirelessly prior to Holloway’s arrival, delivering thousands of babies and ensuring both the mothers and children received the proper care they needed in order to survive. For two years, Kris and Monique lived and worked together in Mali, expanding the village's ability to provide healthcare. During that time, Kris learned the challenges of being a healthcare worker in a place with limited resources and educational opportunities, but she and Monique made the most of their conditions and provided essential healthcare to thousands of mothers.
The two women also developed a very special friendship, immediately recognizing their similar personalities and outlooks on life, while coming from backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. When Holloway left Mali, she and Monique stayed in touch over the years by writing letters back and forth. Inspired by her time alongside Monique, Holloway went on to earn a Master of Public Health from University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). One day, Holloway received a letter that Monique had died while giving birth to a fifth child. Monique was 33 years old.
Monique's amazing life story and Holloway's experiences with her dear friend inspired her to write "Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali." The book is on the recommended reading list for Peace Corps volunteers. It has also been used by classes in over 200 colleges and universities. Proceeds from sales of the book and individual donations have helped to build a health clinic in Mali called Clinique Monique, a much-needed facility in a country that has the fewest physicians and nursing specialists per capita in the world. To learn more about the clinic and to offer support, please visit the Clinique Monique page. Holloway, her husband, and two children still visit Mali every so often to oversee the Clinique Monique and lend their support to the community that provided so much to Kris, yet still has so many needs of its own.
About Kris Holloway:
Kris is the Director of University Relations at the Center for International Studies (CISabroad), a leader in the field of administering academically-driven and culturally-engaging study abroad and intern abroad programs in 19 countries. Kris has used her unique background in writing, public health, and development to further the mission of numerous non-profits and educational institutions including Planned Parenthood, the National Priorities Project, the University of Michigan, Springfield College, and the Greenbelt Movement International.