Keaton chose Northwestern because he wanted a small Christian college centered in faith and strong academics. He also wanted to find a place where he felt he belonged. He found it at Northwestern, where he’s majoring in social work with a minor in developmental psychology. He’s written for the Beacon, served as a resident assistant in Colenbrander Hall and led a Spring Service Project to New Orleans. During his junior year, he studied abroad in Oman, and he spent the summer before his senior year serving in Haiti.
Eye of the beholder
I think anytime we step outside our comfort zone and enter another culture, we see life and the world from a different perspective. By opening our eyes this way, we are able to have greater compassion and understanding of how other people think about the world. Studying abroad has allowed me to experience a whole new way of life and the realization that I can learn and benefit from other perspectives.
Studying in Oman had a great impact on my faith. I was able to live in a country that was extremely religious, yet devoted to a religion other than my own. Through that, I had many conversations about faith, religion and God with people who viewed those things very differently than I do. Despite our differences, I was able to grow both in an understanding of their faith and my own. I was forced to seek to understand why I believe the way I do, which inevitably helped my faith to grow stronger.
Reflecting on fun
There were so many amazing memories from my time abroad—from hiking canyons, to climbing mountains, to swimming in the blue-green wadis, to sailing on the ocean in a traditional dhow boat, to snorkeling with sea turtles and dolphins. If I had to choose just one memory, however, I would say I most enjoyed spending time with the Omani friends I made, sipping karak tea or freshly squeezed juice at a table on the sidewalk in Muttrah, sharing in wonderful conversation into the late hours of the evening.
The hardest thing to get used to in Oman was how different everything was. Everyone primarily spoke a different language, wore different clothes and ate different food. But that was also the part I ended up cherishing and now missing the most. It was truly a unique place. Oh, and the heat got pretty intense, but we survived!