Lugoff native and College of Charleston junior Kinsey Rogers got the opportunity of a lifetime -- to visit 14 countries in three and a half months during the Semester at Sea (SAS), Fall 2012 Atlantic Exploration. During the trip, Rogers’ time with an orphanage in Ghana inspired her to bring a part of her experience back to her hometown.
Semester at Sea is a study abroad program for college students academically sponsored by the University of Virginia. During the program, students complete course work as well as participate in various service projects.
Rogers first found out about SAS from her friend’s sibling. She was interested in it immediately.
"I heard about the program and was mind-blown by it. It’s been in my heart about two years to do it, to see the world," said Rogers
And see the world she did.
During the program, Rogers visited Ireland, England, Spain, Brazil and Africa, among other countries.
"I’m from a small town in South Carolina and had never really traveled anywhere." said the Lugoff-Elgin High School honors graduate.
In fact, leaving for the trip’s first destination was only the second time that Rogers had been on a plane. Her first time, Rogers says, was when she was too young to remember the flight.
Rogers wouldn’t identify her favorite country that she visited during the program. She insisted that each country had unique characteristics that made it special. However, there was a service opportunity that held a special place in Rogers’ heart.
City of Refuge
"One of the kids was petting me and asking me why I had so many spots -- I told them they were freckles," said Rogers laughing as she recalled the incident at City of Refuge ministries in Ghana.
City of Refuge ministries was founded in 2006 and rescues children who have been sold into forced labor, fishing off of Lake Volta.
"They were forced to fish all day … their muscles are over developed in their shoulders. The couple that runs the orphanage negotiate with the slave masters to bring them back to City of Refuge… their whole mission is to also spread the word about child trafficking. People don’t know it still exists, it’s everywhere," said Rogers.
While at the ministry, Rogers played with the children and helped to paint a new wing of the school at City of Refuge. She really enjoyed her time with the children.
"(One day) we took boxed lunches out there to eat. The children ate before us. As we were helping to give them food one of the kids was so concerned that I didn’t have any food. It was so sweet and very humbling. There I was privileged, these kids are in an orphanage, and she was concerned I didn’t have food to eat -- very humbling," said Rogers.
While there, Rogers noticed that the newly-built library at the ministry had empty shelves. Rogers wants to help fill those shelves.
In the upcoming months, Rogers hopes to establish a book drive with the help of her mother Camden Elementary teacher Katherine Rogers.
The book drive will provide books for the City of Refuge library.
"Being in that environment made me realize that that was where we would help them," said Rogers.