Thursday, July 21, 2011

Nairobi news

News from MIASMU Nairobi campus

The second Immersion Program ended at MIASMU — SMU’s Nairobi campus — on July 13 after three-week intensive research-based courses on African Culture, Sage Philosophy and African Religion.

Running alongside the courses were two special groups of students: a group of six sponsored by the Maryknoll Fathers from a Toronto group called Hearts and Hands, and another 37 teachers from Canada in an organization called Teachers Helping Teachers. They all registered for the three-day course on Introduction to African Culture and Religion. Most of them, after their initial hesitation about going out alone with a just–met African field assistant, were able to move out of their comfort zones and were doing field research on a one-to-one basis with their field assistants.

This is a good example of the effectiveness of the MIASMU education method where classroom lectures are integrated with supervised field research facilitated by a trained African university graduate. This method quickly began to guide all of them into appreciating and enjoying African cultural life and activities.

Awards given to MIASMU field assistants

At the end of each academic year, the field assistants — who are all Kenyan University graduates — and an essential element of the MIASMU educational method, are awarded certificates of performance and gifts ranging from watches and bags to books and airtime credit cards in appreciation of a job well done.

They are assigned to students on a one-to-one basis as their personal field assistants, which makes the students’ learning experiences unique and highly effective in understanding and articulating African cultural reality.

Foundation Certificates are awarded to field assistants who have worked in a minimum of six courses. The certificate spells out that the assistant has attended 240 hours of lectures on a post-graduate level, assisted students in 40 hours of field research per course, acculturated graduate students both foreign and African to Kenyan life and reality, arranged for students’ contacts, translation, explanations, and interviews in the field, hosted students in rural homes on overnight visits and written six essays relevant to the course, each of which is listed with the grade received.

Intermediate and Advanced Certificates are also awarded after a field assistant has done a second and a third group of six courses respectively.

Two of the field assistants were awarded Advanced Certificates, three Intermediate Certificates and six Foundational Certificates. These Certificates are highly valued by the assistants and are included in their CVs when applying for jobs or academic programs.