Thursday, March 13, 2014

News from Nairobi

By James Chege
Maryknoll Institute of African Studies

Class representative Lawrence Ofunja of the course: Contemporary Political and Economic Realities in Kenya hands in the week’s field research reports and draft copies of the students’ research paper to the lecturer, Prof Edward Oyugi.
MIASMU draft research papers handed in 

Students are required to hand in a draft of their course papers to their respective lecturers for review in the seventh week of the semester program. These drafts are most important as they facilitate the process by which the students begin to organize and analyze the knowledge gained from classroom lectures and especially from their weekly field work. The drafts also help the lecturers guide their students as they progress in writing the final draft of their papers. Writing a draft of the course paper, together with writing reflections on cultural themes and domains and field research reports, are an integral part of the MIASMU educational method.

This part of the method is based on the principle that whenever you write down something you are essentially having a conversation with yourself as you interact and dialogue with the graphic presentation of your thoughts and ideas. This process facilitates a deeper understanding of the structures of the subject matter under consideration. Also, all the writing required by the MIASMU programs helps students and field assistants, through the very graphic meditation that they have created, to begin to internalize their classroom and field research experiences. This internalization is an essential component in gaining fluency in a host culture and well as one’s own.

Prof. Michael Kirwen asks a question during the M.A. thesis presentation by Joseph Oindo.

Second M.A. thesis defense 

On Friday, March 17, Joseph Oindo became the second student in 2014 to successfully defend his M.A. thesis at the Maryknoll Institute of African Studies. The title of his thesis is “Health and Healing in Luo Culture and its Interaction with the Catholic Church’s Pastoral Program for Health and Healing in Homa bay Diocese Kenya.” The panel for the colloquium included the chair and thesis advisor, Prof. Laurenti Magesa, the thesis reader Prof. Mary Getui and the program director Prof. Michael Kirwen.

Joseph Oindo’s thesis reveals that among the Luo, when an individual is sick, the whole family is sick and thereby affecting the whole community at large. Therefore healing becomes a communal agenda as opposed to just focusing on the ailing individual. Furthermore, healing among the Luo takes a holistic dimension taking care not only of the physical well being but also the spiritual and emotional well being of the affected persons. Finally, health and healing in the Luo community has an intrinsic relationship with the moral character of the individual and that of the entire community.

MIASMU visitors from Germany are hosted to lunch at the faculty lounge. 

Special one-day course for MIASMU visitors

Visitors from the University of Münster of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany and from Missio  Aachen, one of the largest Catholic aid organizations in Germany, were welcomed and briefed on the nature and value of the MIASMU educational method. This method enables students to begin the process of  learning, understanding, and celebrating African cultural knowledge and domains.

The visitors from the University of Münster came to Nairobi specifically to prepare an exposure-to-Africa program for 15-20 German theological students for March next year. And, In order to understand and appreciate the value of the MIASMU three-day one-credit courses, the visitors participated in a special one-day course on March 11.  All found the day to be most challenging, and it gave them insights in how a three-day program for the coming theological students could be a most fitting way to begin their African safari.