Natural Traveler

Levi Afolabi studies abroad in Spain

Keith Sherin Global Leaders in Salamanca

Global Leaders in Salamanca

In May and June of this year, Olivia “Levi” Afolabi, 23, a 2015 graduate of Inver Hills Community College, traveled to Salamanca, Spain, as part of an accredited study abroad tour. “Spanish Language and Culture in Salamanca” was administered by the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). Levi was one of 20 TRIO Student Support Services and McNair Achievement students recognized by the Keith Sherin Global Leaders Program.

Salamanca, one of Spain’s most spectacular cities, served as home base for Levi and her group while they became immersed in an intense, month-long study of the language and culture of Spain. The Old City of Salamanca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“I liked that Salamanca is a college city,” Levi said. “I didn’t expect so many young people. I was also impressed by how free the people are in Spain. They walk around without a care in the world and never seem to worry about tomorrow. And I love that they have a café on every corner. The people of Spain are so chill.”

Global Leaders in Salamanca

Global Leaders in Salamanca

Levi took advantage of every minute she was in Europe. She  visited Aveiro, Portugal, as a planned excursion. She expanded her adventure and visited France with stops in Paris and Beauvais. She also traversed the Mediterranean to Morocco and the fabled city of Marrakesh.

“I had an interesting experience in Morocco,” Levi said. “I was taking video of a snake charmer and his two black cobras. When I started to leave, he chased me and demanded that I pay him. A friend of mine, Rico, came to my rescue and paid the snake charmer one Euro. I felt like Jasmine when she picked up an apple in the market and Aladdin had to save her.”

Levi never felt out of place anywhere she went on her journey. “I like culture shock,” she said. “Our tour leader said I was a natural traveler.” During her time in Spain, she trekked on her own to Barcelona, the sixth largest urban area (nearly 4.7 million people) in the European Union and the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea.

“Most of us cried when we left Spain,” Levi said. “We felt so welcomed while we were there. I felt like I had lived there my whole life.”

Spain gallery

The TRIO SSS Connection

“I love TRIO,” Levi said. “I first heard about TRIO at Inver Hills during orientation. I thought TRIO sounded cool and knew it was something I would like to do.”

Levi met with Matt Kruger, TRIO director at Inver. She described her circumstances, explaining how she had done her soul-searching and knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She entered TRIO and got to work.

“I basically did two years of college in one,” said Levi, who worked full-time at Northeast Residence while going to school. “I feel like Matt took a chance on me. I’m glad he did.”

Levi in Morocco

Levi in Morocco

Matt considers Levi an ideal TRIO SSS success story. “Olivia is a driven, hardworking student who is always on the lookout for new opportunities,” he said. “She seizes opportunities and runs with them. Once she decides to accomplish something, Olivia pursues her goal until she reaches it. This approach has paid off enormously in her life. We’ve been thrilled to have her as a student in TRIO and look forward to hearing about all of her successes in the future.”

Matt reported that one of the benefits of TRIO Student Support Services is that TRIO advisors get to know their students’ interests and goals while constantly looking out for opportunities that align with their college and career aspirations.

“TRIO advisors support students as they seek out and apply for extracurricular opportunities, including study abroad,” Matt said. “Studying abroad can be a life-changing opportunity for students to gain language and intercultural communication skills, broaden their perspective, and delve deeper into a particular area of study. It’s rare for community college students to be able to study abroad, so it was wonderful for Olivia to be able to do so while she is still here at Inver Hills and hopefully she will have the opportunity to study abroad again later in her educational career.”

After Inver

Levi has plans to attend either Augsburg College or Hamline University in fall 2015. Her preference is Augsburg as a forensic anthropology major.

“I can imagine myself in a job like the one Temperance does in Bones,” Levi said. “I’m also interested in cultural anthropology and am definitely looking at doing forensic work overseas.”

Levi Afolabi

Levi at May 2015 commencement

Levi at May 2015 commencement

Age: 23

High school: Tartan 2010

Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island

Residence today: Woodbury, Minnesota

Graduated from Inver Hills in May 2015 with her Associate of Arts (A.A.)

Levi has Nigerian-Japanese ancestry. Her mother, a registered nurse, is originally from Lagos, the largest city in Africa with 21 million people. Levi’s mom belongs to the Yoruba people. Levi understands the Yoruba language when spoken. Her hope is to one day learn Japanese.

Hobbies and interests
  • Anime (favorites: Dragon Ball Z and Hunter x Hunter)
  • Comics (favorites: Wolverine and Deadpool)
  • Fantasy novels with dragons, vampires and other supernaturals
  • Writing short stories
  • Painting and drawing (see gallery below)
  • Videogames (favorites: RPGs and fighting games, including Zelda and Mortal Kombat)
  • Wants to get a dog when she gets her own place, preferably a husky

Levi Afolabi gallery

Portugal gallery

Morocco gallery

France gallery

To learn more about TRIO Student Support Services at Inver Hills, contact:

Matt Kruger
TRIO Director
651-450-3701

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