Global Studies Program Travels to Kenya

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Global Studies group visits local school in Kenya.
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Hippopotamuses swimming in lake while Global Studies group takes a tour on boat.
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L-R, Matthew Nelson, Makensie Lonergan, Brandi Rasmussen, Sa Nguyen, Christelle Kenfack, Janet Scott, Jody Pence, Jane Bock, Terry Stutzman, Danvas Mabeya
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Faculty member Dr. Danvas Mabeya among Kenyan children.
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After spending 10 days in Kenya, Africa, students, faculty and staff at Southeast Community College have a new perspective on life.

“It really opens your eyes to the world,” said Terry Stutzman, a staff member who took advantage of the Global Studies trip to Kenya in July. “I came away thinking, what else can I do? What can I do to help people?”

This was the first time the Global Studies program offered a trip to Kenya. Two faculty members grew up in the region, which made it a good fit. Sociology instructor, Dr. Danvas Mabeya, grew up in Kisii, Kenya. Business instructor, Janet Scott, spent her childhood in Kisii, and went to high school in Nairobi. Her parents were missionaries.

“It was eye-opening,” Scott said. “Many of the people had not traveled internationally. The different way of life over there, students were surprised and their eyes were opened to a different culture.”

Mabeya said several colleges offer trips to Kenya, but SCC’s trip went beyond the others by traveling into the rural areas, so students could get a different point of view. The group was able to visit Mabeya’s family tea farm and planted blue gum trees on the property.

“It’s important (to travel) because the world has become very small,” Mabeya said. “People move in and out of the United States daily. I have seen people who have never seen an African-American.”

The group was able to visit a variety of different schools where they would contribute books. They were able to see every aspect of education, including an elementary school, high school, university, and a technical college. Scott said the technical college and SCC shared many qualities.

“I was surprised it was as similar to SCC as it was,” Scott said. It had computer labs, libraries and a construction program.

“Education has come a long way,” she said. “There’s a lot of advancements, and the government has put a lot of resources in education, and it’s showing.”

The group also was able to learn more about one of the subjects Mabeya teaches in his classes: Female genital mutilation. In Africa and other countries, this ritual involves circumcising the female between the ages of nine and fifteen, when they are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. Mabeya has been involved in the prevention of FGM.

“One thing I’m interested in is trying to educate people about this practice,” Mabeya said. “The government has come up with a ban, but it still is done. They are only educating women, not men. The approach is not very good.”

There was a conference about FGM, and the group was able to meet women and hear stories about their experiences with the ritual and how it has affected them. Many times females are exposed to social exclusion if they don’t take part in this practice.

“We met women who had refused to take part in the practice and the experience of what happened,” Scott said. “That experience for us to meet the women was eye-opening.”

A surprise trip to the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi was a special bonus. The group spent two hours and were given a tour, saw the general chamber and learned about the UN’s role firsthand.

They also were able to get a close-up look at African wildlife, including zebras, warthogs, baboons, wildebeests, and exotic birds. They visited an elephant orphanage and a giraffe sanctuary.

“We saw hippos out swimming in the water and got within 100 feet of them,” said Stutzman, who took a boat ride on Lake Naivasha.

Twelve people took part in the Global Studies trip, including Stutzman and his daughter, Heather, who lives in California. She was able to make a special connection during the trip.

“For the past six years, she has sponsored two girls (ages 8 and 12) in Africa. The highlight was meeting those two girls,” Stutzman said. “One family had to walk three miles to get water.”

An avid runner, Stutzman said another highlight of the trip was the opportunity to run with a Kenyan. Many of the best distance runners in the world hail from Kenya.

“If you have the opportunity and there’s a global education trip, I would take advantage of it,” Stutzman said. “You get a more personal experience when you go with people like this.”

Mabeya and Scott said they would like to plan a future trip to Kenya. In the meantime, trips to Guatemala, Italy, Cuba, and Haiti are planned for next summer. Scott says one of the best times to travel is when you’re a student.

“You have freedom and energy that you may not have when you’re older,” Scott said. “It’s a cultural immersion experience. We looked at daily life, business, economics, and agriculture. It was a glimpse into another world for our students.”

“People need to understand these things when they’re students,” Mabeya said. “It opens up a lot of people and the way they think.”

Persons interested in SCC’s Global Education opportunities can click this link for a schedule.  https://www.southeast.edu/globaleducationopportunities/

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For more information contact:
Andrea Gallagher Haggar
Marketing Specialist
402-323-3395
ahaggar@southeast.edu