Sean Stoerrle ‘11 enrolled at Washington College as a freshman lacrosse player without a concrete plan for the future, but after traveling the world and taking classes in political science, Sean is ready for a career on the international stage.
Sean, a political science major with dual concentrations in Theories of Peace and Conflict and African Studies, hopes to attend graduate school abroad to study international law or development and humanities.
“I’d like to work with the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, or maybe keep pursuing my education to become a professor so I can give students the same opportunities I’ve had,” he says.
Sean enrolled at WC to play lacrosse and after his freshman year, he traveled to Ireland and England to play in tournaments with the team.
“I’d gone places with my parents before, but that was the first time I could really get involved in the culture and meet the people,” he says.
The following summer, Sean participated in the three-week summer abroad program in Tanzania, led by Dr. Tahir Shad, associate professor of political science and international studies.
Pinching his thumb and forefinger together, Sean says, “Dr. Shad told me, ‘You’re this big in the world, so do what you love and make it an adventure.’ When I had the opportunity, I just went out and did it, and it was one of the best things I’ve done.”
Sean enjoyed his time in Tanzania so much that he returned for six weeks the following summer. For the majority of that time, he taught English at a school in the mornings and worked with a Women in Action group in the afternoons.
His schedule left plenty of time for Sean to reunite with friends he’d met the previous summer, and to explore the country.
“We went to a different site every weekend,” Sean explained. “Even before the trip several of us had the opportunity to go to an uninhabited island and visit tribes where they were so isolated, they’d never seen white people,” he says.
“Tanzania is twice the size of California — with few roads,” Sean says. “We went on different safaris and saw about twenty lions and three cheetahs, which was pretty wild because they’re extremely rare.”
The trips weren’t all fun adventures, though.
“We took a six-hour bus ride in Ethiopia to see the beginning of the Nile River, and when we were on our way back, we pulled over to the side of the road to have lunch,” Sean recounted.
“All these kids came within ten feet of us and just stared. I felt horrible and I gave all my food to them,” he says.
“I saw a kid grab a jar of mayo and just started eating it, and that’s when it really hit me.”
Experiences like that made Sean passionate about pursuing a career that would help people in developing nations.
“After traveling to a developing country and realizing how much you have, you get a whole new perspective on life. You can’t really imagine it until you’re there seeing those people that most of the world doesn’t seem to even care about,” he adds.
Though he’s applying to grad schools all over the world, including Cape Town in South Africa, Sean hopes to return to Tanzania to help direct next summer’s trip. As the director of trips in 2010, Sean organized excursions that included hikes up Mt. Meru and partway up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“I really want to make it all the way to the top next time,” he says.
Major: Political Science