Forming new cultural connections

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Marcom / Courtesy Photo
Kenyan senators Samson Cherargei (left) and Irungu Kangata (right) at the
conference during their visit at Pierce College.

How an extended invitation lead to an exciting addition to the upcoming Kenya study tour

For the first time in Pierce College’s history, students will be studying science abroad for an up close and personal biology study in Kenya. This trip will provide students the opportunity to learn in a new environment not confined by a classroom setting.

On Aug. 8, Kenyan senators Irungu Kangata and Samson Cheragei were invited to Pierce College by Dr. Francis Githuku, head of the Metro Safari and Kenyan Community. Francis intended for this meeting to bring more Kenyan students and their culture into Pierce College.

Originally, the senators came to Washington for diplomatic purposes regarding the Boeing 737 plane malfunctions and its effects on their citizens. 

However, the Senators were also looking for an affordable education for their students. 

As they toured, the senators brought forth the idea of adding to the Kenya trip, bridging the connection of the Kenyan community and Pierce college. 

The senators invited the students going abroad to the National Parliament, and in addition the possibility to have more students from Kenya attend Pierce College.

The National Parliament, like the United States senate, is a body of government that votes and approves on different laws. The Parliament itself, where the students are invited to, is the building where the voting takes place. This unique opportunity was not originally on the roster for the Kenya trip.

Brent Leavell, manager of International Marketing and recruitment of the International Education department, facilitated this meeting. Leavell’s greatest takeaway was watching the relationship form organically 

between the senators and the college.

These trips abroad are a once and a lifetime opportunity for some students at Pierce…It’s a way for students not only to learn different subjects hands-on in a non classroom setting, but to see a different country as well.”

— Ashley Chambers

“The community college mission statement fit their goals,” he said. 

“They saw it as an affordable and great pathway for students.”

Ashley Chambers, the Homestay coordinator for the International Education department, will be attending the Kenya trip as the administrator. “These trips abroad are a once and a lifetime opportunity for some students at Pierce,” Chambers said. “It’s a way for students not only to learn different subjects hands-on in a non classroom setting, but to see a different country as well.”  

The game plan for the trip abroad, Chambers explains, is to start in Nairobi which is the capital of Kenya. From there they will go further inland, each destination bringing students closer to the wildlife. At the end of the trip, they will be by the Maassai tribe, a group inhabiting the African Great Lakes region.

The trip itself is cheaper than most flights to Kenya, but the financial costs are still high. The entire trip will cost around $3000 per student. Although it is a daunting number, the school is doing everything in its power to help, one method being with the Kenya Shoe Drive.

Collectors of Funds2Orgs pay nonprofits to collect on the company’s behalf, the funds being given to the International Department. The shoes donated are then given to small business owners in different countries.

“We have a lot of single parents and students on full financial aid packages who are working their hardest over the summer,” said Chambers. “Students are working two or three jobs, seven days a week to make this trip happen and we would love to ease a lot of the financial burden for them.” 

Boxes can be found for the drive in front of the Welcome Desk, while shoes can be dropped off at the International office room C509. When the goal is met, the Pierce College Foundation will get the additional funds to help the students going on this once in a lifetime trip.

With the visit from the senators, the students going on the trip abroad have even more to look forward too. With the deadline for the shoe drive being Oct. 15, students can help the International Department reach their goals of 300 bags. So let’s come together as a student body and achieve this goal.