Alumni Spotlight: Arley Cornell


Arley is a 22 year old, who studied abroad through GoED Rwanda from early January in 2012 to early May of 2012. He is a native of upstate New York, from a small town named Hammondsport. Arley studied at Greenville College in Southern Illinois, and is currently interning with Invisible Children in San Diego, CA while freelancing in motion design and animation on the side.

Why did you decide to study abroad with Go ED in Rwanda?

I decided to study abroad with GoED in Rwanda because I had always wanted to travel abroad, and because Rwanda had experienced and dealt with issues of genocide, reconciliation, and justice, which are issues that are near and dear to my heart. I wanted to see and experience a different culture, and based on what I knew of GoED, it would truly be an immersive, challenging, and eye-opening time. I gave it some prayer, and it became obvious that this was to be an excellent investment of my time in terms of experience, academics, and vocational growth. I wasn't disappointed.

How has this experience impacted your future?

GoED Rwanda has affected the course of my life in ways that words can't really describe. Personally, I have understood in richly the ways in which we, as human beings all share poverty. Some poverty is manifested materially, some spiritually - I feel as if I know now, because of my time Rwanda, just how deeply impoverished I and everyone else is before God, and how deep my my need of him is. One experience I had while I was there was when I stood at a mass grave from Rwanda's genocide for a while... Moments like those set my heart on ending global injustice and promoting peace and liberty with every fiber of my being for the rest of my existence.

I know now that my drive to see justice and truth in the world is what will guide my career path. The cross cultural experiences I had in Rwanda were immensely positive academically as well. Upon returning to my home school in Illinois, I was pleased to see how my worldview was more well-rounded, and that my experiences were incredible assets in the classroom. All in all, Rwanda was a place where I grew as an academic, becoming more well-rounded, and as an individual, becoming more holistic, culturally aware, and mindful of my place in this world.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home

One experience that I had that there's no way I could have had at home was when I interned with a reintegration center for vulnerable youth in the Eastern Province. There I created videos and other media for the nonprofit organization that would eventually help raise funds for the center. The most rewarding and beautiful part of this experience, however, was the time I spent making friends with the kids. By the end of the internship, I felt like I had new family. I still keep in contact with my brothers from the center, and still am astonished by how beautiful the experience was in the relational sense, and what an asset to my portfolio and resume my work at the center was vocationally. I would not have been able to have as wild and rewarding an experience as this anywhere else.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future students?

A piece of advice that I'd give to future GoED students is to invest deeply in your time in Rwanda. The more you put into your time there, the more you will get out - go exploring. Talk to locals. Take weekend trips to other parts of the country (some of my best memories were made doing this). Make sure that you not only learn with your head, but learn with your emotions as well. If you let the people and culture of Rwanda move, change, and motivate you, you won't be disappointed. My life has forever been enriched by falling in love with that place.