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Alumni Stories

Sisters’ Separate Paths Both Lead to KIIS

by Amelia Kolb

Samantha and I both have always loved travel and understanding the world outside of our own experiences. In my freshman year of undergrad, I knew that I wanted to have an experience abroad as a Spanish major, so the KIIS Merida Mexico trip seemed like a great fit. I loved getting to know the Mexican culture on the Yucatan peninsula and had great experiences with my host family and professors. This experience ultimately inspired me to apply for a Fulbright grant in Mexico after I graduated undergrad. I was accepted and ended up teaching English in Mexico for the 2019-2020 academic year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Without my experience studying in Mexico with KIIS, I may not have known that I wanted to live abroad for a longer period of time. Additionally, this experience contributed to my resume and application process because I was able to speak to my experiences in Mexico with KIIS throughout the Fulbright application process.

In 2018, Samantha won a scholarship to study abroad from EKU. After she won, she called and asked me for advice about where she should go abroad. One of her options was the KIIS Peru Summer trip, and I encouraged her to go there because it was a unique location and she would be able to go to Machu Picchu, which was part of the trip itinerary. After advising her to go to Peru, I thought that it could be a great experience to join her, so I decided that I also wanted to apply. Since we were at two different universities (WKU and EKU) I would not have ever thought we would have the opportunity to study abroad or take college coursework together, so this became a really special experience.

This trip also had a great impact on Samantha. On the Peru trip, we took an anthropology course on the ancient civilizations in Peru. Because she had already taken several anthropology courses for general education requirements at EKU, this study abroad trip inspired her to add anthropology as a minor. Once she made that decision, she decided that she would complete her anthropology coursework on the KIIS Barcelona trip in 2019 where she was able to study the Roman influence on civilizations in Europe.

We are both so thankful that we had two opportunities to study abroad with KIIS. Today, we still look back on the memories of our trip to Peru together. Traveling abroad together presenting us with both challenges and fond memories. Samantha is now about to begin her second year of occupational therapy school as a graduate student at EKU. Since my return from teaching English in Mexico, I have returned to WKU and am working toward a master’s in student affairs in higher education.

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Amelia & Samantha Kolb

KIIS Peru 2018
Amelia: Spanish & Student Affairs
Western Kentucky University
KIIS Merida Mexico 2016

Samantha: Occupational Sciences & Anthropology
Eastern Kentucky University
KIIS Barcelona 2019

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