Earlier this summer, Katherine Carter ’96 served as a contact for a group of Elon students visiting her adopted country, Namibia, embodying the saying ‘once an Elon student, always an Elon student.’
By Xernay Aniwar ’17
While Katherine Carter ’96 was a student at Elon, she participated twice in study abroad programs, which made her well aware of the challenges of landing and integrating in a foreign country.
That’s why she didn’t hesitate to offer her assistance when she was asked to be a contact for a group of Elon students interested in visiting her adopted country, Namibia. Thanks to her guidance, seniors Kelsey Lane, Susan Reynolds and Aleksandra Zayac were able to spend part of their summer in the African nation conducting focus groups and interviewing key professionals in their areas of research, which include climate change, agriculture and food security.
“Working with Katherine was amazing,” says Associate Professor of Health and Human Performance Carol Smith, who accompanied the students. “Her knowledge and background about Windhoek and Namibia in general were a wonderful help. She met us on the first day we were there, and showed us around, took us to a number of great places for lunch and snacks, and was just a wealth of knowledge.”
Carter also helped coordinate logistics with accommodations, locating supermarkets, exchanging money, navigating local transportation, finding internet connections, purchasing SIM cards for cell phones and making research contacts at Center for Teaching and Learning at the Namibia University of Science and Technology, where Carter works. “She has been an incredible contact both with regard to our Periclean initiatives and with regard to my own personal interests,” Lane says. “My main takeaway from Katherine was the utmost of appreciation for her support as an Elon alumna.”
Carter settled in Namibia after volunteering in the Peace Corps, earning her master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and her doctorate in cultural anthropology from the University of Debrecen in Hungary. In total, she’s worked abroad for 16 years in five different countries. She attributes much of her success as a world citizen to the mentoring and hands-on experiences she received at Elon from her sociology and anthropology professors. Tom Arcaro, now director of the Periclean Scholars, was one of her sociology professors. When she met the Periclean Scholars, she says, she immediately recognized and related to their ambition and drive. “Perhaps this is what Elon instills in its graduates,” she adds.
For Zayac, Carter’s kindness demonstrates the “global bond” that the Elon community has. “She really epitomizes the idea that once an Elon student, always an Elon student,” she says. Students will return to Namibia in January to continue working on a documentary about food insecurity and help to organize a conference that addresses food-related issues in the country. Carter will once again be ready to welcome them and share her expertise.