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Studying Abroad: The Next Level

Studying abroad is a cultivating experience for students during their college experience, but how can they go above and beyond?

Felicienne shows Anissa her home, garden and chickens which has improved child nutrition in her community. Photo courtesy of Anissa Rasheta.

Felicienne shows Anissa her home, garden and chickens which has improved child nutrition in her community. Photo courtesy of Anissa Rasheta.

Anissa Rasheta, a 39-year-old mother of three who doubles as a sociology major at ASU, took studying abroad to new heights this year. She paired up with CARE, a nonprofit organization and then she went to Benin, in West Africa.

While abroad, Anissa and many others from CARE, which works in almost 90 different countries, focusing on women and girls in extreme poverty, worked for a week in villages all around the rural area called Cove, and, for a few days, in the city Cotonou. 

Some of the numerous programs already in place once they arrived included training women to grow gardens, creating independence through the Village Saving and Loan Association, educating the male figures about health and support for the women and children, and giving free vaccinations to babies. New technologies were also introduced, such as motorbikes and Call For Life that assisted women in getting to the hospitals.

“In this one area with this one program [Call For Life] that’s been going for three years, they have seen a 33 percent reduction in the maternal mortality rate,” Anissa said.

This was just one of the many instances throughout her time abroad that exemplified the significance of the programs instituted globally and how much they are developing.

In addition to participating in programs to help solve pressing issues in Benin, the CARE team also got to spend time with the communities building one-on-one relationships in the villages.

“They [women in the villages] also spent time with us on a fun level," Anissa said. "After we had our meetings, they taught us how to dance and we all sang and chanted. It was really memorable to connect on a personal level with these women to see their personalities."

Anissa also experienced continued success following her trip to Benin. She redefined her life by going back to school and immersing herself in her global development and social change classes at ASU. Although her academic success began before her time abroad, she continued to apply what she experienced in her classes to her involvement with CARE during and after her trip.

Anissa described her upbringing as one in a setting where women have limited roles, and strove to defy the odds and make her own role for herself. She will be the first woman in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree and continues to set an empowering example to women through her incredible work in CARE.

Her husband, Nik Rasheta, went into more detail about her trip to Benin and her endeavors with CARE.

"She (Anissa) feels like there is a purpose she is fulfilling," he said. "She enjoys just knowing she is making a difference in the world and the contribution she’s making. The differences might be minor from certain perspectives, but it’s something being done.”

This woman’s passion for the wellness of others seems to have no end, but her dedication and drive had to start somewhere. Anissa first began her journey with CARE after her movie event received recognition. She organized a screening of the documentary, Girl Rising, about women deprived of an education, in order to spread awareness on the issue and begin providing resources for women in need.

Jonathan Young, the regional advocacy coordinator for CARE, described his first encounter with Anissa at a meeting.

"You could see the passion that she really wanted to help and wanted to be part of this [CARE] ... now she is one of the strongest advocates you can find out there for us," Young said. 

The next step for Anissa includes planning an event with CARE in collaboration with ASU on Oct. 17, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Anissa hopes to spread the mission of CARE through this event and get more people involved with the movement to improve the lives of women and children who suffer from malnutrition and poverty globally.

“Our goal is to create an event for students and people around the community to come," Anissa said. "CARE is collaborating with ASU on this event to help discuss maternal health and global development."

With her passion and drive for what she does, whether it’s as a student, as an advocator, or as a mother, she continues to surpass the limits and go above and beyond.]

Correction: Due to a reporting error an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Anissa Rasheta's age and how many children she has. The version has been updated with the correct information. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @emmasounart on Twitter.

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