International Venture Returns from East Africa
King’s Students Investigate East African Development
NEW YORK, August 9th, 2011—In recent decades, the world has seen the rise of the “developing country.” After long term economic stagnancy, key African nations are experiencing strong economic performance. Uganda, for example, sustained an impressive 7% average growth in GDP between 2000 and 2010. Although the economic development is encouraging, East African countries like Kenya and Uganda are at a crossroads. East African's must decide how they will address matters of individual rights, domestic culture, foreign interaction, and economic planning. This critical juncture is what prompted 10 King’s students to travel to Kenya and Uganda as part of the College’s International Ventures program.
The group of students, accompanied by Professor Steve Salyers, Associate Professor of Communications and Humanities, departed New York City on May 16th. The first seven days in Africa were spent in Nairobi, Kenya, where students met with Innovations for Poverty Action and representatives of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK).
At the meeting with GALCK, both sides were initially uneasy. Shortly after the meeting began, however, students found themselves engaged in deep conversation. Samuel Tran ('13) said, “I soon found myself talking about matters of faith with Johnson, one of the GALCK representatives. He wanted to know more about God, but found himself shunned by the church. I left, praying that our discussion might be a stepping-stone back."
After seven days in Kenya, students traveled through the Masai Mara Reserve and crossed the Western border into Uganda. The team then spent three days at Uganda Christian University, where they met the president of the student government as well as the vice-chancellor of the university. From there, the students traveled to Makerere University, the East African equivalent of Harvard University. The King’s students stayed with the Makerere students at the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts and participated in a four day art exchange. Students produced art, dialogued with students about philosophy, and built important relationships. Betsy Brown (’11), described the time, saying, “We discussed issues such as the current unrest surrounding the elections in Uganda, the connection between philosophy and studying the arts, and poverty. The students were brilliant visual artists and I was honored to be able to work alongside them on art projects that reflected our conversations.”
After three weeks in Africa, the students had seen poverty, learned to better appreciate African culture, and met with the current and future leaders who are crucial to the success of East Africa. King’s graduate Ted Pantone, a current resident of Kenya, said that “If any King's student expects to live the mission of the college they must have a view that is broader than the confines of our 50 states. Ultimately, International Ventures are an invaluable opportunity to enrich the minds of King's students with a global perspective. That global perspective will make them more effective at living the mission of our school.”
The King’s College educates students in the ideas upon which nations rise and fall. With a focused curriculum in the liberal arts tradition, students are prepared to help shape, and eventually to lead, the institutions of government, civil society, media, law, business, education, the arts, and the church. King’s is a Christian college located in the Empire State Building in New York City.
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