I stumbled onto Africa accidentally, She found me. I was able to exempt out of Government 101 and 201 at W&M because I scored a 5 on my Govt. AP Test (it's rare I ever to share that tidbit!). However, my adviser had enrolled me in 201 because she said I need the statistics lab. I was like, "Um, NO!" That 5 came with two months of before school AP practice; translation- for two months I got to school at 6am, where a group of us met with our teacher to write timed essays and review course material. There was no way I was taking 201 for a statistics lab that was part of at least 4 other Govt. classes that I would eventually take. Of course my adviser warned me against this, saying it would be a good slow introduction- I did not listen.
Nothing with me can ever be easy, and because the upperclassmen has already registered for their classes the previous semester, the class I needed was already full. There were no Comparative Politics classes open, but this guy I met told me there was a professor who might let me in- if I could answer a few of his questions to his liking. The day before classes started I went to Professor Ndegwa's office, told him my story, and asked if he would let me into his class. He looked at me thoughtfully, and asked "What do you think of the World Bank?" Um, "WHAT?" I really had no idea what my position was on the World Bank, but I was a Republican. Any kind of world organization was a centralized power, taking said power away from "The State." Using this rationale, I told him that while I was definitely not an expert on the WB, I was no fan of the World Bank. Thank God I didn't tell him the logic I used to answer that question, or else I definitely wouldn't have gotten in, but I didn't, and so he gave me an override into his class.
Professor Ndegwa was from Kenya, and he had the loveliest lilt to his voice- I could listen to him lecture for hours. I happened to do very well in his class, I even got my first, and only, 100 on a midterm. I liked him so much that I wanted to take another class with him the following semester. It turned out the only other class he was teaching was Southern African Politics. I had always been intrigued by Africa, I loved Cry, the Beloved Country; The Heart of Darkness made me want to BAD things to all of those colonialists. But still, I was a Republican, Africa wasn't really on my radar and I had to convince my parents that taking this class was a good idea, and not a waste of their money. The fact that my only A that first semester was in Professor Ndegwa's class, helped tremendously.
The rest is history- I fell in love with Africa that semester. It changed the way I viewed the world, the way I thought about the United States, and even made me question my undying love for Ronald Reagan. I guess you could say it was the first real chink in my Republican armor. That class opened my eyes, it was the proverbial Pandora's Box for me. It took me years to reconcile all of this with myself, of course, but this was where it all started. I used to explain how I could love Africa so much and still be such a staunch Republican- it was hard, but somehow I found a way. One of my best friends used to tell me, in her superior liberal voice, haha, that I was the only Republican she knew that really believed the Republican way was best to really help people/Africa. I never expected to love Africa, I only took that SAP class because I thought I could get a good grade.
Eventually, I would go on to join the African Cultural Society- being their only Caucasian member, and to minor in African Studies. I often wonder whether or not I would have stumbled onto Africa had it not been for Professor Ndegwa, my World Bank Answer, or the random guy who told me about a professor who might let me into his class. Thankfully, and luckily, there were a series of fortunate events that led me to Africa.