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Mina Shah

Mina Shah, '16, MA '17

Unfinished business

When I received an African Service Fellowship to work with the West Africa AIDS Foundation (WAAF), I was ecstatic. However, while preparing for the fellowship I began to study ethical theory relating to serving in communities with which the server is unfamiliar. I became terrified that by engaging in this service endeavor, I’d be doing a morally reprehensible thing. Furthermore, a week before I left, my grandmother passed away, sending me spiraling into grief for the entire time I was working at WAAF. Then, just as I felt like I was getting adjusted to my surroundings, Stanford pulled out all students in West Africa due to the Ebola outbreak.

The combination of wanting to conduct my service with WAAF as ethically as possible and feeling as though I’d left unfinished business in Accra made me want more than anything to go back to Ghana and WAAF this past summer. Using the entire academic year to prep, I was better able to serve the organization as a more respectful outsider. As a result, I became motivated to apply for the master’s program in African Studies here. So, cliché as it sounds, this experience has changed my life positively in ways that I never could have anticipated.

Mina Shah, '16 (Comparative Literature), MA '17 (African Studies), was a 2016-17 fellowships peer advisor.
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