Side by Side

Charles Lwanga graduation in Zambia.

January 01, 2015

By Joseph Kinsella, Assistant Academic Vice President for Global Engagement  

Imagine a day when Gonzaga students live for a semester in Zambia, learning about the local literature, music and history with Zambian colleagues, while they tutor children, intern in a Jesuit hospital, or work at a radio station promoting literacy or health education.

This is the kind of momentum building between Gonzaga and communities in this southern African nation.

Since 2007, Gonzaga faculty and administrators have been working in Zambia on the premise that immersion is the first step toward engagement and intercultural competence.

Gonzaga has embraced an approach to international education that engages strategic partners in mutually-enriching projects and programs. These collaborations have paved the way for long-term community engagement, institutional change and student learning that focuses on what it means to be men and women for others in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.

Just as our students will be transformed by studying abroad, we expect that our faculty, the ways we think about education, and our institutions themselves, will change through these engagements.

One example of a mutually transformative collaboration has been with the Charles Lwanga College of Education (CLCE) on the Chikuni Mission. In December 2014, 25 Zambian educators, including instructors from the Charles Lwanga College, graduated with master’s degrees in educational leadership from Gonzaga’s School of Education. This was achieved via a blend of online and face-to-face courses in Zambia and in Spokane. Now, these “Zambian Zags” plan to put their Gonzaga education to work to change the landscape of Zambian education, and advance multilingual leadership for the next generation of local educators.

During the graduation celebration, Gonzaga representatives toured the Chikuni Mission, which also includes elementary and high schools, a hospital, a radio station and other community resources. As they learned about the Mission – which the Jesuits established over 100 years ago – they recognized that there are ample opportunities for Gonzaga students to learn about the good work being done by Zambians.

When deans from Gonzaga visited the Chikuni Mission this summer, Dr. Brenda Stevenson Marshall, dean of the School of Nursing and Human Physiology, was enthusiastic that these connections could be built.

“Our students are taught the Jesuit principle of social justice that is so intrinsic to global health practice,” Marshall says. “Here, we see how institutions can come together for reciprocal enrichment and the opportunity to make an important contribution globally.”

It’s a belief shared by Peggy Chilema (’14), a principal education standards officer in the Zambian Ministry of Education.  She says the partnership has fostered knowledge and skills that “will help enable us to enhance leadership skills necessary for fostering educational development in our country.”

The possibilities are endless: a hospital internship for nursing and human physiology students, radio station work for journalism broadcast students, education majors teaching literacy, business students working on a start-up project, sociology student experience at the cultural center, and teaching English as a second language.

If we engage the creativity of our faculty with the innovation and local knowledge of our partners at Chikuni Mission, we have enormous potential to build mutually-transforming programs, side by side.