HEA in Focus - Wilkes University
- AT A GLANCE -
Name: Wilkes University
HEA programs:February 1, 2013 – Wilkes Visits the U.N.
November 15, 2012 – Mohammad Reza Salamat “Climate Change & the United Nations”
October 9, 2012 – Mr.Peter Schmitz “UN Peacekeeping And the Situation of Peacekeepers in Haiti”
February 27, 2012 – Ambassador Christopher Goldthwait “Global Food Security”
January 23, 2012 – Verona Lambert “UN Counter Terrorism Efforts”
Other International Programs:
February 1, 2012 – Representatives from US Mission to the UN, UNDP, Academic Impact, UNEP, the Missions of the Tanzania and Costa Rica “Economic Development and Climate Change”
March 19, 2012 – Ambassador Simona Micvlescy “ Trafficking”
The institution we know today as Wilkes University began in 1933. When Bucknell University established its Junior College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Bucknell University Junior College (BUJC) attracted eager, highly motivated, and able young persons, virtually all of whom were the first members of their families to benefit from higher education.
Since that time, Wilkes University has been recognized for its long standing tradition and commitment to liberally educating students for lifelong learning and success in a constantly evolving and multicultural world through a commitment to individualized attention, exceptional teaching, scholarship and academic excellence, while continuing the university’s commitment to community engagement.
The Tanzania program offered at Wilkes University immerses participants into a rural district of Tanzania during the summer. This program is unique in a number of ways:
- It is designed to enhance exposure to a broad variety of topics related to international affairs, health services, public health, issues related to the United Nations Millennium Goals and international development in Africa and includes required coursework on East African culture and history.
- It is located in a rural area where students are immersed in the community and culture and involved in numerous grass-roots NGO’s, schools, and health related organizations. Our on-site collaborators including the WOMEDA (women’s rights), MAVUNO (water issues and microfinance), Karagwe School districts, Nyakahanga district hospital, the AIDS control program, Kagera Disability services, FADECO Community Radio, Angaza AIDS Counseling Services; Karagwe Radio plus numerous other NGOs and media outlets that are associated the local community. Some are now funded by USAID but continue to be locally directed and funded also.
- It requires that students learn about global issues, design projects around UN Millenium goals, and then, once they are in Tanzania, work with an agency in order to learn how programs operate in the community. This facilitates a level of understanding and awareness that is impossible in a standard classroom.
- Individuals from the local community in Tanzania serve as preceptors in addition to the university faculty who travel to the area with students. This sets up ongoing relationships and fosters cross-cultural understanding.
- Participants are encouraged to seek ways to be of service to the local community while in Africa but also prior to going and after returning. This has led to many ongoing service projects (see below).
- Exchange programs have been set up to foster cross-cultural awareness and partnerships of equality that include bringing our partners to the United States to enable them to envision our world.
- The longevity of this program (twelve years) and the numbers of universities who are involved with it (Wilkes University and University of Pittsburgh are the primary partners, West Virginia University, Duquesne University, Carlow University, Stanford University, Bryn Mawr University and Case Western University have sent students or faculty) are testimony to its value.
Program participants have been involved in multiple service projects. These include a student produced documentary on AIDS orphans (“It Takes a Village”), fundraising for AIDS orphans and their families, and a children’s book project to produce books in Swahili for complimentary distribution to children in school in the Karagwe Tanzania area.
DOCUMENTARY AND AIDS ORPHANS
The most extensive recent project is known as “Embrace a Child” and includes a partnership with the regional AIDS Control project in Tanzania. This partnership has involved numerous initiatives including raising funds to purchase books and pay tuition for AIDS orphans, community based partnerships to build houses for AIDS widows and their families, and seeking donors for family support and medical support for families with multiple AIDS cases. Wilkes University students have actively embraced this project on campus, developing a unique logo, and planning with numerous fundraisers including a large event on World AIDS day. In addition, this year, one of the Wilkes University students, Kirstin Cook, who traveled to Tanzania as part of the program, videotaped a documentary on several of the AIDS orphans who have been supported by the Embrace a Child program over the last twelve years. This will been seen by the campus community as part of the World AIDS fund raising event on December 1, 2012.
Wilkes University’s Department of Communications Studies has its own student run Public Relations office called Zebra. One of the students in this group prepared the following press release regarding Kirstin’s documentary and experience.