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WKU group meets president of Tanzania during summer program

WKU students and faculty participating in the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) Tanzania Program had an opportunity to meet with the President of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, during the program’s 2014 summer session.

In the meeting on June 22, President Kikwete held a brief discussion with the group about its activities and aspirations in the public health arena in Tanzania.

“He met with the group briefly to share his passion to work with KIIS,” said Dr. William Mkanta, an associate professor of Healthcare Administration at WKU and director of the Tanzania summer program.

“He is happy that KIIS is working toward establishing itself as the leading American entity in addressing the issue of maternal and child health in Tanzania. We have got a friend in President Kikwete,” said Dr. Mkanta, who is originally from Tanzania.

The June 12 to July 16 program offered courses in different health-related fields including Global & Public Health, Nursing, Service-Learning, and Comparative Healthcare Systems.

The 21-student group included six from WKU: Trevor Davis of Louisville, Shantera Rice of Munfordville, Samantha Holmes of Bloomington, Ill., Jasmon Harris of Nashville, Tenn., Kaleiah Brown of Gary, Ind., and Asia Larkin of Nashville, Tenn.

The meeting with Dr. Kikwete took place at the State House in Dar es Salaam on a memorable night in Tanzania during the African premiere of the documentary Tanzania: A Journey Within. Also in attendance at the event were the U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania Mark Childress, several Tanzanian cabinet ministers and other invited dignitaries.

“It was a great privilege to be invited to the State House in Tanzania to watch the documentary, A Journey Within, with President Jakaya Kikwete,” Davis said.

The documentary, he said, “is about two friends from the United States who visited Tanzania together. The man in the film, Venance Ndibalema, is a Tanzanian native who is visiting his home country with his American friend, Kristen Kenney. Kristen enters Tanzania with the expectation of experiencing a primitive culture. She discovered that her expectations of Africa were merely fallacious. The documentary takes the viewer through a vast array of Kristen’s experiences from life in the city to rural villages which ultimately change her perspective not only of Africa, but her perception of human interaction.”

Overall, the documentary was a great summary of what students in KIIS-Tanzania program experienced: culture shock, adjustments to the environment, new friendships and fun-filled excursions.

KIIS-Tanzania is the only program in sub-Saharan Africa among 24 programs offered by the KIIS consortium in more than 20 countries worldwide. The five-week program focuses on public health and community services for students in majors such as public health, health administration, nursing, pre-professional programs, social work, biology, environmental health and related health sciences. It provides students with the opportunity to learn and practice their knowledge and skills in the African setting. Moreover, the program aims at providing the students with a platform for global learning and for developing awareness, knowledge and appreciation of diversity.

For information about summer 2015 program, contact Dr. Mkanta at william.mkanta@wku.edu or visit the program website at http://www.kiis.org/go/Tanzania.php

Contact: Melanie Eaton, (270) 745-5854.

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