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MIAS Logo      Maryknoll Institute of African Studies      MIAS Logo

Testimonials

Boat from Gambia. A diviner-priest stands in the bow.

ABSTRACTS OF TESTIMONIALS OF MIAS PARTICIPANTS
1990 - 2008

DR. EMMY GICHINGA (R.I.P): Kenyan, Master of African Studies graduate 2006

You have done a lot in shaping my africanist outlook through the MIASMU environment. At the same time I was doing my Master of African Studies at MIASMU, I was doing my PhD. The topic I chose [for the PhD] naturally grew out of the courses I did during the MIASMU program. I did field research (having learned very well through MIASMU) wrote and submitted the dissertation at the end of November 2005. It was examined and passed in December 2005. a 17 page written defense was submitted by the end of December 2005. I got the results early this month (February) that the defense passed and I have been awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology. Thank you for all you did to make this reality come true. 

 

STEMBRIDGE MAIMBO: Zambian, Attended MIAS in 2006

I was happy with the organization your Institute has put in place. May God continue blessing you in your mission of making people become aware of African Culture. I really feel part and parcel of the MIASMU programme that given another opportunity, I will not hesitate to take it. 

 

EPIMARCK BAKANJA: Tanzanian, MIAS MA Graduate

I joined MIAS to acquire intellectual understanding on African cultural knowledge however I ended up not only becoming intellectually converted but also morally converted. Now I claim not only to be an African but also an Africanist. The courses I have pursued in MIAS have brought a Copernican revolution in my life. Class lectures that were participatory in nature have challenged me to share my views and acquiring different insights from the issue of the courses I have done at the Institute. The weekly field research and overnight visit to the rural home of my field assistant where I encountered real African experience has helped me to have my own authentic experience of African customs, ideas, traditions and worldviews and come up with a new authentic, unbiased, objective understanding of African culture. I didn't know the impact of MIAS in my life before joining the Institute. Now I am a different person. I am able to live and teach others as an Africanist.

 

BEATRICE GACHAIYA:  Kenyan, MIAS student 2006

The courses I have attended so far have been planned well and take into consideration the demands of mature students combining work and schooling. The lecturers and the administrative team are all very friendly and helpful. The studies are systematically arranged to provide a step by step discovery process of key pertinent areas covering the course taken. The courses have provided a deep cultural knowledge I didn't have even though I am an African by birth. Before this exposure and academic learning there was a disconnect from my cultural roots, which I now feel the courses are helping me to bridge. I am more exposed and knowledgeable about my own cultural background and the events that have shaped my ethnic community. This has also enriched my experiences as a Counselor. I can now appreciate clients experiences on areas such as witchcraft and marital concerns based on cultural values than before this exposure. I am intent on using experiences and knowledge acquired in furthering the counseling field by holding courses covering key complex areas presented to counselors by clients. 

 

GREG GAUT: American, Attended MIAS in 2005

I did a lunch time colloquium on my experience in Kenya and some issues facing Kenya based on the lecturer’s excellent course as I tell people, the course gave me an opportunity to overhear, and to a certain extent participate, in an ongoing discussion about how Kenya and East Africa can move forward. Meanwhile, I have integrated various things from my experience in Kenya into my world History course.  I have been telling people here that one of the strengths of your program is the fine staff you have put together, as well as the excellent faculty you have assembled.

FR. BENNO KIKUDO: Tanzanian, Attended MIAS in 2005

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude for the wonderful experience I had in MIASMU program. It was quite an experience in uncovering the hidden fathoms of African culture. During the Director's lectures he used to tell us that MIASMU program would enable us to be true Africanists. I feel that I am one of them. When I arrived back home I was assigned the task of giving seminars to various groups of single parenthood families. When I conducted these seminars I used nearly everything from the lecturer's notes and class sharing. I had a good feedback from various seminar attendants. They noted something different from me. Thank you for this treasure. 

 

BRO. DENIS KATUSIIME: Ugandan, Attended MIAS in 2005

With MIASMU, I foresee  a revolution in a few years to come in the African way of thinking, and even the way some people from the West think about Africa will change. 

 

BRO. MARTIN SIMA: Tanzanian, Attended MIAS in 2005

MIASMU has a very good program that is useful for everybody. 

 

RICHARD AKETCH NG'ONG'A: Kenyan, Attended MIAS in 2005

This has been an excellent program especially to African Independent churches where I am involved in training. I suggest that church leaders in these independent churches be given the opportunity to attend the courses because there are traditional African practices that are Godly and need to be documented. 

 

JOSEPH WASONGA: Kenyan, Attended MIAS in 2005

This is a very good program. One of its kind in the neighborhood. Its fire should be kept burning. 

 

SR. JANINE COLEMAN: South African, Attended MIAS in 2004

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and have spoken to many people about it.

 

JACK NORTHROP: American, Attended MIAS in 2004

This morning I was invited to speak at a Catholic men's breakfast. Most of the men are around eighty one years of age. They wanted to hear about my experience in Africa. I ended up speaking about MIAS. I tried saying something about cultural themes, domains and how unique it was to interview Africans about their culture and how they felt about it. I think in some way I demonstrated that I had made the Rite of Passage. When I get back to Maryknoll, I do intend to find my field notes and to polish up my paper a little bit more. Through meeting Africans in the states, keeping up my correspondence with them in East Africa, plus the reading, I hope to deepen my one month's experience and that my Rite of Passage will continue to be significant for me.

 

JUDITH ALLISON: American, Attended MIAS in 2004

I miss you all in Kenya. Prof. Kirwen was right...it (MIAS experience) changes one, and I have given several talks here and everyone has been most interested.

 

REIDAR AAMODT: Norwegian, attended MIAS in 2003

Thank you very much for the fantastic stay I had with you in May/June.  I was surprised to find that there was so much I didn't know about Africa, since I have been working there for five years.

 

PAULETTE ANKRAH: Ghanaian, MIAS MA graduate 2002

I am proud and happy to have been enriched and better prepared in MIASMU. Infact, whatever I do as a member of our formation team, I think of it as an African and how to bring in the aspect of culture or inculturation. I have had sessions with our candidates in formation and inculturation and I am surprised at how they were very happy and appreciative of it. They feel their minds have been opened to a lot of things they never knew or took for granted. I could sense their feelings because it was what I felt when I first took the course African Cultures: An Overview...During the reception of our candidates to postulancy I introduced something new and traditional basing on what I recommended in my [MA] thesis. 

 

CARLOS RODRIGUEZ: American, Attended MIAS in 2002

The courses I participated in really helped me to integrate the material in my Missiology course at Maryknoll the following spring. I still recommend the program to people that I meet and I hope that it continues to grow over the years. 

 

BILL & SALLIE WATSON: Americans, Attended MIAS in 2002

We will never forget all that we learnt in Africa.

 

JIM EGAN: American, Attended MIAS in 2002

I have told all formators that your summer program is great and that it can be used as a tool wherever you end up in mission.  The MIAS Program also gave me a lot of confidence.  Well, (I've always had confidence) but it certainly helps you develop it to take on new challenges.  Even being out here in Chicago, if I have to go and meet new people I visit or minister to (especially if I'm by myself) I know that I can do it - because the challenges in the MIAS program makes these petty things over here look simple.  You don't have to want to work in Africa to take these courses.

 

HELLEN KHISA: Kenyan, Attended MIAS in 2001 and 2002

The MIAS training has offered  a lot to me. The training I got is a big help in acculturating myself to North American society. Thank you and may God bless you. 

ROMANE ST. VIL: Haitian, Attended MIAS in 2000 and 2001.
I think this program is a gift to missionaries and anyone who would like to involve themselves in a respectful dialogue with African religion and African traditional values. It is also a gift to Africans who are so much disconnected from their own traditional culture. A MIAS student told me that she was overwhelmed with the joy of discovering who she is, a real person rooted in a real sacred tradition. This course, she said, had changed her life, by giving her a sense of identity and self-worth.
She was also overwhelmed with sadness knowing that most Africans don't know who they are and have a very negative attitude towards African culture. I believe that the Institute is doing a great pastoral work, by bringing to life a people who were buried under the oppressive and destructive soil of Western colonialist enterprise.
MIAS is, am convinced, the most effective and efficacious way of integrating an outsider in African culture, and of helping Africans discover themselves. 

MELISSA BROWNING: American, attended MIAS in 2001.
The program has been amazing. I've felt such a sense of community at Maryknoll, and for that I'm grateful.

EILEEN WEGLARZ: American, attended MIAS in 2001.
I've been on a "high" since I'm home. I hope the third session is progressing well, and that Lomole and Lynn are as thrilled as I was to be a part of the program.

My memories of Africa are still very vivid. It's amazing how many times things I learned there come up in my sermons. Africa remains a part of me, and to be honest, I left a part of me back there...Africa gets in your blood. 

LYNN PETERMAN: American, attended MIAS in 2001
The course was phenomenal.

ROOSEVELT HOLT: American, attended MIAS in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2001. He did four tours in Africa as an auditor with USAID and is currently completing his MAS degree.
The reasons for the failure of so many development projects in Africa undertaken by development agencies and missionaries alike is one of the primary topics of discussion at Maryknoll. There are numerous foreigners working in Africa who have no genuine understanding nor cultural sensitivity for those that we try to serve and assist.

Dr. RICHARD JONES: American, Professor of Mission and World Religions, attended MIAS in 2000.
I will happily attest to anyone who wishes to hear what I have learned from the MIAS  director both about culture and about ways to enter in and evaluate it. Virginia Seminary continues to look to the Maryknoll Institute of African Studies as an important adjunct to what we try to teach by way of openness to other cultures for the sake of connection to what God is doing or may yet do there.

DR. DANIEL M'MUTUNGI: Kenyan, attended MIAS in 2000.
I appreciated greatly the course I took on "Islam in East Africa". The course exposed me to a world of Islam that I didn't have the slightest idea of what it was and how it operates.

MEEKNESS LECATO: American, attended MIAS in 1998 and 2000.
I learned more in twenty-one days in your program than I did in my many visits to Kenya.

JOAN SHANNON: Canadian, attended MIAS in 2000
I want to reiterate again how glad I am to have taken the African Cultures class.

SHIRLEY SMITH: American, attended MIAS in 2000.
She found Prof. Collette Suda's course on African Marriage and Family helpful to her project of promoting involvement of her home Diocese of Northern California with the Diocese of Kigezi's assistance to western Ugandan AIDS orphans.

MARK FEATHER: American, attended MIAS in 2000.
Took the introductory survey of African culture and visited a Gikuyu homestead near Mt. Kenya. "The hospitality and good cheer arising in a setting of severe poverty amazed me. I came away with a new appreciation for the inner integrity of institutions, as well as the vulnerability of persons".

DRS. DAVID NDEGWA: Kenyan, had worked for MIAS as a field assistant since 1997 to 2000. Now a Ph.D. student at Nijmegen University, Netherlands. Dr. Frans Wijsen at Nijmegen, he says, has expressed great optimism that with you around, the Institute is set to develop to greater heights. Your recommendation on my field research ability helped a great deal in my acceptance into the Ph.D. program.

SR. MARGARET MUMBUA: Kenyan, attended MIAS in 1999.
I am very lucky to have done the course I did.  I learned a lot and now I am using the material giving seminars and workshops to the sisters.

FR. VICTOR PHALANA: South African, attended MIAS in 1999.
A happy millennium to you and all your staff members. I am grateful for our course in 1999. Thanks for a wonderful program.

Bro. JOHN OLSEN Ph.D.: American, attended MIAS in 1999.
I continue to reap the benefits of the African Studies Course in my inner sense of adjustment and peace with the African reality as well as in the contacts and information which the research afforded. Thank you for all this.

CLEMENT SINDAZI: Zambian, attended MIAS in 1999.
I wish to thank you for a wonderful experience I gained at Tangaza College when I was studying there. Since I came back from Nairobi, Small Christian Communities have been inviting me to share on what I was studying. I am also running youth workshops from which many young people benefit a lot.

PETER WAFULA: Kenyan, lecturer at Kenyatta University, was a Field Assistant at MIASMU in 1999.
I am deeply, and indeed will always be, indebted to MIAS for the research experience that it nurtured in me.

While teaching religion to forms five and six students of a secondary school for refugees from Rwanda, Burundi and Congo, he wrote: "I knew from the MIASMU program the importance of creation stories to a people's understanding of their world. One of my goals with my students is to help them appreciate the value of their cultural stories, especially now as their lives are so disrupted by wars and separation."

MARGARET ARINGO: Kenyan, attended MIAS in 1994, 1996, 1998, and 1999. Presently in a Ph.D. course in the U.S.
It exposed me to the area of field research as a methodology, which in turn I introduced to my students. It is this methodology that added to this course a unique touch/experience.

PETER MILLER: American, attended MIAS in 1998.
The most vivid impression he retains is of the gratitude which drives the Pentecostal Christian worship he attended: "People who are destitute of material possessions overflow with the joy of living with God."

ALLISON ST. LOUIS: American, attended MIAS in 1998.
I still don't agree with this institution (polygamy), but I now understand enough to realize some of the motivations, plus some of the disadvantages for men as well as for women.

PATRICIA BYTNAR CAHILL: American, attended MIAS in 1997.
My African experiences were formative and I am deeply grateful for my course at the Institute.

MARY NYIKURI: Kenyan, worked for MIAS as a field assistant in 1997.
I also want to thank you especially for the Research Skill Workshops that I attended. It really enriched my academics and even as I plan to go in for a MASTERS DEGREE PROGRAM IN ANTHROPOLOGY, I am sure my field work will not be comparable to that of someone who never took your courses.

KEN AHLSTRAND: American, attended MIAS in 1997
I want to especially thank you for your vision and persistence in raising up people's sights to understand Christianity from an African perspective. That perspective has been invaluable in my preaching and teaching, since I returned from Africa.

ALAN AKRIDGE: American, attended MIAS in 1997. Now directing youth ministry at Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, Michigan.
I teach our youth to take off their shoes as they enter other people's space, because they will find it is space where God is already present.

JENNIFER MONTGOMERY: American, attended MIAS in 1997. Now serving a large Episcopal parish in Richmond, Virginia, USA.
I never find in American eyes as much joy as I saw in people's eyes in Nairobi. The attitude on board the Matatu (mini-bus) was an attitude toward life: always room for one more!

My experience in Africa continues to inform and form me--I recently used a story from when I was there in my Ash Wednesday sermon.

LYNN ORVILLE: American, attended MIAS in 1997.
She utilizes the perspectives of her course on Christianity and African Traditional Religion to help discern the meaning of behavior in many a new social setting, and to help people comprehend the sacred in the everyday.

SR. CATHERINE GOUGH: Irish, attended MIAS in 1996

One of the single most useful things I ever did was the cultural studies course you offered in Kenya. I have found it so helpful to have a way to help others get in touch with their own culture and in the future, in Brazil, this will continue to be invaluable. 

DOUGLAS ZIMMERMAN: American, attended MIAS in 1996.
The Nairobi experience helped him learn that God is not confined to fancy Episcopal churches in the United States.

SR. CATHERINE GOUGH: Irish, attended MIAS in 1996

I still find myself calling on much of  the  stuff I learnt and experienced while with you.  Now I will have to explore a new culture among the Shona and Ndebele in Zimbabwe.

FREDERICK DEVALL: American, attended MIAS in 1995.
I learned far more on this trip than I ever expected. Before I left, I was highly skeptical of an inculturated faith. Today, however, I support efforts of Inculturation. Such movements erode "ownership" of the church and its message by the West. The product is a richer understanding of God at work in the world.
He expressed continued enthusiasm for the usefulness of his Nairobi experience to the crossing of subcultural borders in New Orleans.

FR. PETER KIBUUKA ADYERI: Kenyan, The Principal of St. Andrea Kahawa's College, attended MIAS in 1994.
After attending the MIAS courses, I feel more African than before. I think it's the high time the Africans become more and more authentic to the African culture and religion.

DR. FRANCIS-VINCENT ANTHONY: Indian, attended MIAS in 1994, lecturer at the Salesian College in Rome
I am making some publicity for the MIAS course at our university. As the result of the courses that I attended at MIAS, I have introduced a course on "Cultures and Evangelization in Africa.

SIMON KIBUGI: Kenyan, worked for MIAS as a field assistant in 1993 and 1994. Now an auditor in a software business in Vancouver, Canada.
It was an experience I will probably never forget despite having lived in Kenya all my life. The experience at the MIAS program has really opened doors to me -- having the experience on my resume has helped open avenues that I never thought possible.

DRS. SAMITA WANAKACHA: Kenyan, has worked for MIAS since 1993 as field assistant, library assistant, graduate assistant, and now as Personal Assistant to the Director. Currently a doctoral candidate and lecturer at Tangaza College and Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
I am auditing two classes (in Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri). What is interesting is that Spradley (Participant Observation) is the KEY text. So you can see how my exposure in MIAS gives me an advantage over the other students. I have just got my grade from the professor (A).

PHYLLIS RAMSEY: African-American, attended MIAS in 1993. Now serves as a minister at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Ft. Washington, Maryland, USA.
Her experience of traveling alone to Mombasa (at the Kenyan coast) and being swept along in a crowd where people looked like her but she could communicate with no one has been unforgettable.

KATHLEEN PRICE: American, attended MIAS in 1993. Now a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., USA.
She detects a similar motive for worship in her southern Maryland parish and some in Nairobi: gratitude. "Of course in Nairobi I learned this worship continues until it's over, not until some clock strikes".

REV. CAROLYN WEST: American, attended MIAS in 1992.
I work as a rector of a parish of 1200 in charge of outreach, adult education and pastoral care. I am using some of what I learnt at MIAS in working with our Sister Diocese of Puerto Rico.What I learned about entering a foreign culture has helped me to make my way as a new pastor into an unknown American parish. She learned from the African Traditional Religion course that, "Noise shatters the world; silence puts it back together".

PATRICIA KAIRO: Kenyan, attended MIAS in 1992.
I could not have been able to write an essay on Mary, which is "COME IL CULTO DI MARIA VIENE CAPITA NELLA CULTURA AFRICANA", if I did not attend the courses I did with you. I got a lot of profit from African Studies courses. I now feel confident to approach my new appointment with joy because I feel African and that is what I am.

TOM BAILEY: American, attended MIAS in 1992. A professional church organist.
MIAS "has profoundly affected my life in many ways".

BRIAN BRANDT: American, attended MIAS in 1990, presently finishing his doctorate at Marquette University.
I had been somewhat familiar with the concept of liminality before the MIAS workshops. The categories and structures of liminality that I picked up in your MIAS training are substantively informing my present analysis.

DR. DEL CHINCHEN: Chairman of Biblical and Religious Studies Department, Daystar University, Nairobi- Kenya. Sends Daystar faculty to MIAS.
They (Daystar faculty) always bring good reports of being stretched and challenged. We plan to have them present their papers at our next Bible Department meeting. Thanks for running a good program.

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