Add Africa to the growing list of continents on which Metro State is pursuing international partnerships.
A delegation from the College visited Ethiopia for an exploratory visit in late November/early December (see http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/artman/publish/ethiopia_twv6110508.shtml), and returned with a host of plans for partnering with various Ethiopian communities and institutions.
The three delegates from Metro State—Interim Executive Director of the Office of International Studies Akbarali Thobhani, Vice President for Institutional Advancement Carrie Besnette, and student Nicole Oudenhoven—were part of an annual visit to Ethiopia by the Denver-based Cunningham Foundation.
“We’re eager to follow up on the opportunities we were able to identify on this trip,” says Besnette, “and for the partnership activities that will be available to Metro State students, faculty and staff as a result.”
A study-abroad course to Ethiopia is in development, slated to be offered in January 2010 through the African and African American Studies department. The course will include a visit to some of the sites visited by the delegation, including ancient monuments, churches and archeological sites in the historical cities of Axum, Yeha, Adowa, Gondar and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia provides a remarkable context for a study-abroad course,” says Thobhani, who’s designing the curriculum. “It’s one of the oldest countries in the world, with some of humanity’s earliest traces. In Axum alone—considered to be the birthplace of Ethiopian civilization—there are tombs of the Emperors Kaleb and Gebra; the new and old St. Mary’s Churches where the Ark of the Covenant is said to be held; and archaeological sites associated with the Queen of Sheba.”
While visiting Axum, one of Denver’s sister cities, the delegation presented the mayor with letters from President Stephen Jordan and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. In addition, the delegation held preliminary discussions with Axum University on a potential partnership. The university, just three years old, has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,000 students from across Ethiopia. The partnership would be to develop and implement mutually beneficial projects and open up opportunities for faculty exchanges, Fulbright grants and student internships.
The formalization of a partnership with Axum University would bring the number of such Metro State partnerships with overseas universities up to five, according to Thobhani. The College already has partnerships in place with Yunnan Radio and Television University in Kunming, China; the University of Pune and the Business School at the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India, and the University of Guadalajara in Mexico.
The Ethiopian delegation has identified a number of other potential follow-up activities to pursue, including the following:
• Hold meetings with faculty to explore opportunities to provide technical assistance, such as computer technology, science laboratories and library development.To read the full text of the trip report, go to http://www.mscd.edu/~collcom/todayatmetro/assets/ethiopia_trip_report.doc.
• Organize student fundraising activities to support targeted projects, such as building a library.
• Develop partnership activities with the faculty and students of Regis University, who are engaged in development projects with Project Mercy, an nonprofit aid organization working in Ethiopia.
• Organize Ethiopia-focused student organization to assist with sustainable economic projects at the Project Mercy complex, in Yeteban, near Addis Ababa.
• Strengthen ties with the Cunningham Foundation and the Denver-Axum Committee.
• Partner with other institutions of higher education that are already involved in Ethiopia or interested in becoming so.
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