This blog gives prospective students, parents, friends and alumni a chance to learn more about the Kenya program and follow the experiences of the current students throughout the year. After each component of the program, students will generate a collective post reflecting on their diverse experiences throughout East Africa. Photo galleries and blog posts will chronicle the lived experiences of students as they move throughout the components of the semester. We also include additional posts about our growing summer programs and alumni connections.
An additional goal of this blog is to both foster and help productively channel the important digital connections between students, our Kenyan partners and families and friends around the world. Spending four months away can be a real challenge for some, and the blog is a way for students to represent their experiences to a wide audience as well as keep friends and family updated. In the past, a semester in Kenya represented a real “off the grid” experience. However in recent years we have witnessed the explosion of connectivity in East Africa, from wifi in local restaurants to Kenyans sending money to each other through sophisticated mobile phone technologies. Thus, while students in the past would stay connected through mail and perhaps the 5$ a minute call home, alumni today remain connected to their Kenyan friends through text, email and skype whether those friends are in a high rise office in the cosmopolitan capital city or on a bus traveling down a dirt road in rural Kenya.
A Short History of the KSP
(A video capturing some of the essence of the KSP by Beau Gaughran KSP Spring 2014)
In January 1972, Dr. Peter French led St. Lawrence’s pioneering trip to Kenya. Begun as a January-Term experiment, the SLU connection to East Africa evolved into the Kenya Semester Program (KSP) by 1974. From early origins as the Nairobi Semester, the program has grown into a truly East Africa semester, offering both semester and summer programs. Students today experience both the vibrant life of Kenya’s capital city as well as the regions diverse social and cultural landscape. From rural and urban homestays to field components across Kenya and northern Tanzania, the KSP introduces students to the culture and livelihood of African communities spanning the rural urban divide. The culmination of the semester is the independent study, where students spend one month studying a diverse array of issues in not only Kenya but also Uganda, Tanzania and even Rwanda.
With over 2200 alumni from more than 40 different universities the program has had a wide impact on both U.S. students and our Kenyan partners. Fostering mutually beneficial relationships has been an essential part of the program’s mission. Alumni have been at the heart of nurturing SLU’s deep engagement in Kenya, with many offering generous support for local development and educational projects across the country. And since the early 1980s many of SLU’s distinguished Kenyan scholarship winners have returned “home,” with St. Lawrence degrees providing a pathway to leadership positions across the country.
Selected Alumni Insights and Memories
“If I close my eyes I can still see the bright lavender of the jacaranda trees; the rich red color of the dirt roads in the western province, the pink bougainvillea draped along whitewashed walls. I can still hear African music jangling from kiosk radios and the blast of horns from overflowing matatus.”
“On a personal level, I recall the hospitality of the Kenyan people, from my village family to a family I lived with in Nairobi, to the generosity of total strangers.”
“My time in Kenya with the KSP has paved my entire way in life; bringing me to where I am right now in my career, and molding me into the person I have come to be.”
“Quite honestly, every day of my KSP experience reaffirmed my desire to work and live in Africa. Kenyans are warm and hospitable and their land is beautiful. I have been able to draw upon the KSP as the backbone of my career in international development.”