Endeavour Leadership Program to Kenya
Funding support from the Federal Government’s Endeavour Leadership program has enabled a group of 10 University of Newcastle students to travel through Kenya.
This cultural immersion project ran over two weeks and took us to live with the Masai in an eco tourism village for several days and then to Kirinyaga University near Mt Kenya to work with the KYU Student Environmental Club. The project achieved all of its aims and more.
Strong relationships were cemented between the University of Newcastle and both the University of Nairobi and Kirinyaga University. All 10 students participated fully in every aspect of the trip (including lost luggage and some gastric upsets) and each and every one of them acknowledged that they had had a life changing and empowering experience that opened their eyes to other cultures that taught them new things and that grew new international friendships.
Kirinyaga University Student Environmental Club had organised a series of seminars and outings specifically for our students from University of Newcastle. Of particular importance and significance was the willingness of students from both Universities to interact and over the course of the visit strong friendships were forged. Two tree-planting activities resulted in some 600 or more trees being planted on two sites, the KyU campus and also on a denuded area of Mount Kenya.
An address by representatives of the Kenya Forest Department highlighted how climate change was affecting the forests of Mount Kenya – snakes are being found at higher altitudes, glacial ice is melting - bringing home to us all that global warming is having its affects worldwide. We also had the chance to participate in a clean-up environmental sustainability exercise of the local Kutus city
By having a KyU-UON buddy system each student had the opportunity to build a close relationship one on one with the KyU students, thus allowing time for more personal discussions about areas not specifically related to the conservation program being undertaken. Such discussions of family, social mores and social activities, politics and life-opportunities were invaluable in broadening the horizons of the students and have built long term bridges that will endure through the professional lives of both the Australian and Kenyan students involved. In particular it is evident that participation in this project has encouraged students to undertake post-graduate studies or internships in Kenya, and KyU students to seek further education through the University of Newcastle.