A Lifetime of Discovery
Amanda Pearson '92
KSP fall '90
204 Lakeview Avenue
Cambridge , MA 02138
Contributed by Michele Pinard '81, who recently interned for
six months at St. Lawrence's Center for International and Intercultural
Studies (CIIS) as part of the Master's in International and Intercultural
Service, Leadership and Management Program at the School for International
Training—a "mid-life" endeavor, she says, that was
largely inspired by her 1981 Kenya Program experience.
"He just wouldn't take "NO!" for an answer," exclaimed
Cliff Moskow '89 ( Kenya [KSP] '87).
"He" is Tom (Mpeti) Ole Surum, with whom Cliff cultivated
a long and enduring relationship. A full Maasai warrior at age 20,
Tom had also learned English, although he was formally educated only
to about the fifth grade level. When they met on the streets of Nairobi
by chance several years after Cliff studied in Kenya, Tom pressed Cliff
to document Maasai life and, although it was a filmmaking project Cliff
didn't really want to get into, Tom wouldn't relent.
So Cliff raised $250,000 and returned with Tom to Kenya to produce
and distribute the autobiographical film, "Wandering Warrior," which
aired on PBS and the National Geographic channel. Meanwhile, in his
role as international goodwill ambassador, Tom lectured on the Maasai
Mara until he was killed in a car accident. An estimated 10,000 people
attended his funeral, including many political dignitaries. Cliff gave
Cliff and Ian Grant '84 (KSP '83) continue to be involved
with Maasai communities that they were first exposed to on the St.
Lawrence program. Serving on the Board of the Maasai Education Discovery
Foundation (www.maasaieducation.org), they advance a multifold mission:
to increase education opportunities for Maasai, build bicultural understanding
between Maasai and the world's peoples, and increase health resources
and education for Maasai. The foundation is in the early stages of
creating sister school relationships between U.S. and Maasai schools
to increase mutual understanding. Grant became more of a risk-taker
and says that, as an entrepreneur, he has continued to "stretch" himself
by taking business risks.
They are not the only alumni who have been influenced by their Kenya
experiences. Approximately 1500 St. Lawrence students have participated
in the Kenya Semester Program (KSP) since its inception in 1974. I
posed the following question to eight of them recently: "How
has participating in the KSP affected your personal and professional
life choices?" (Long-term impact of the program on their lives
is being examined in closer detail as part of an ongoing outcomes assessment
project at the CIIS.) Each recounted a unique story.
The findings were highlighted at a conference for international educators
in Bolton Landing, N.Y., in November 2003. One c ontributor was Matt
Meyer (KSP '92), who demonstrated how he has extended his learning
by "giving back" to the people of Kenya in a unique way,
through the award-winning Ecosandals.com Web site. Matt recounted standing
on a hill overlooking several of Nairobi 's slum neighborhoods
as he approached the site of his month-long independent study project.
He returned to Brown University and, with a Kenyan partner, created
a community-based sandal-making project that now sells enhanced used-tire
sandals online. Since the site's launch in 2001, it has employed 30
Of the areas of their lives most affected, the interviewees rated
careers most significantly. Ned Breslin (KSP '87) has been working
in international development in Africa for over 13 years. Annmarie
Terraciano (KSP '87), an environmental corporate lawyer, recalls
sitting with the Samburu on a cliff learning about boreholes when "a
light went on": She realized that "these resources and
the arrangements that gave people access (to water) were critical to
people's lives." In law school, Annemarie volunteered with
Rights Link and provided pro bono legal advice to international organizations
and individuals in Africa.
As a Peace Corps volunteer, John McPeak '88 (KSP '87)
was placed in Senegal, where he developed an interest in agricultural
economics. This led to a master's in agricultural economics and
Ph.D. in applied economics; his dissertation topic was related to fieldwork
initially done on his KSP independent study in northern Kenya. He now
travels annually to conduct ongoing research in Marsabit, where he
can also visit his Samburu in-laws.
Fran Rulon-Miller '77 (KSP '75) related how the semester
in Kenya "empowered" her to become a firefighter at a time
when that occupation was a "man's world." Carol Bushberg
N'78 (KSP '75) described how she is considering switching
careers because she wants her son to have an international experience
at an early age.
In each category that the eight were asked to rate and discuss, anecdotes
were related with deep conviction, indicating that the process of discovering
exactly how study abroad influences individuals is ongoing—as
will be St. Lawrence's efforts to chronicle them.
If you are among the KSP alumni willing to tell a story, contact Amanda
Pearson '92 (KSP '92), founder and coordinator of this column,
who says she "doesn't know where she'd be today" without
her experience in Kenya , and let her know how you have been affected
by studying abroad in Kenya .
Summer 2003 Entry
Fall 2003 Entry
Winter 2004 Entry