Teresa Phiri '13
Malawi and Mozambique
How did you learn about SLC?
I saw it listed on the Davis United World College list. Sarah Lawrence was added to the list two weeks prior to my graduation.
What made you choose to attend SLC?
I was drawn to the emphasis on writing in all degree disciplines. I believe that strong writing skills are important in whatever discipline or career one chooses to pursue. More than that, I was captivated by the holistic approach to education where students are evaluated by continuous research.
What other institutions did you consider?
London School of Economics, Colby College, and York University.
What are your areas of concentration?
Economics and Political Science
Did you have any concerns about attending college in the United States?
I was concerned about the applicability of the liberal arts education in a professional field in my home country.
What specifically did SLC do to help you overcome these concerns?
I was able to work in different internships in New York and at home applying the strong research skills I have gained from SLC.
Did your parents have concerns about your studying in the US?
Not really! They felt confident that Sarah Lawrence was a great place for me! I worked hard to convince them. They were only concerned about the distance.
How difficult or easy was your transition into SLC as a first-year?
As a first year, it was hard to understand the change in cultural context. There were certain times when I would tell someone where I am from and they would have not known Malawi existed until that moment. However, I found SLC to be a great place for intercultural exchange. Eventually, I found friends who were able to tell me about the intricacies of American life and I could do the same for them concerning my home.
How would you describe your experience at SLC?
One word: wonderful! I have learned to be more open, grown into a more academically and socially conscious person, and developed passions that I never knew I had before. SLC is a place that encourages you to think across disciplines, explore knowledge areas you never before considered, and learn through that process.
What is the community of international students like at SLC?
It is growing! We are a dynamic group of really interesting people who are so keen to share our cultural heritage!
What has surprised you most about life in New York?
How fast paced it is! Sometimes I have to take a second to just think there is life outside of New York. Because it such a vibrant place, it can be easy to forget what’s going on outside of it!
What’s the best thing about being an international student?
The best thing is the intercultural perspective that I have gained from living in the United States. I hold true to some of the elements of my home culture but I have also learned valuable lessons from those around me here!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I find it so hard to answer this question because of the concept of home. I was born in Malawi, raised in Mozambique, graduated high school in Swaziland. Since SLC, I have lived in the United States, was abroad for a year in Oxford, England, my parents have moved from Mozambique to Angola…. Simply put, the concept of home is pretty flexible to me! I have no place in mind where I would like to be in 10 years but I know I want to be working in international development so I guess the simple answer is, where opportunity calls!