On June 22nd 2014, the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS) Tanzania Program had the opportunity to meet with the President of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete during the program’s 2014 summer session in Tanzania.
In the meeting, President Kikwete held a brief discussion with the group about its activities and future aspirations in the public health arena in Tanzania. The summer program was held from June 12th to July 16th 2014 and offered courses in different health-related fields including Global & Public Health, Nursing, Service-Learning, and Comparative Healthcare Systems. Dr. William Mkanta, an associate professor of Healthcare Administration at WKU who is originally from Tanzania, is the director of the study abroad program.
The meeting between the 21-strong student team including six WKU students and the Tanzanian President took place at the State House in Dar es Salaam during a memorable night in Tanzania when the African premiere of the a social and public health relevant documentary entitled Tanzania: A Journey Within was held. Also in attendance at the event were the US Ambassador to Tanzania Mr. Mark Childress, several Tanzanian cabinet ministers and other invited dignitaries.
“He met with the group briefly to share his passion to work with KIIS; he is happy that KIIS is working towards 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,” remarked Dr. Mkanta.
WKU Senior, Trevor Davis (Louisville, KY) shared his thoughts about meeting the President, “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,” he said. Trevor went on to elaborate on the documentary: “It 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. At the end of it all everyone in the group would have learned and appreciate life in a whole new way.
KIIS-Tanzania is the only program in sub-Saharan Africa among 24 programs offered by the KIIS consortium in over 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.
Pictured above: KIIS Tanzania Program Director Dr. William Mkanta and his wife Susan in a group picture with President Kikwete together with 21 students including WKU students: Senior Trevor Davis of Louisville KY, Shantera Rice of Munfordville KY, Samantha Holmes of Bloomington IL, Jasmon Harris of Nashville TN, Kaleiah Brown of Gary IN, and Asia Larkin of Nashville TN.
In this photo, President Kikwete (2nd left) is flanked by Dr. and Mrs. Mkanta and the Tanzanian Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Rashid at the end of the premiere.