ABSTRACTS OF TESTIMONIALS OF MIAS PARTICIPANTS
1990 - 2008
EMMY GICHINGA (R.I.P): Kenyan, Master of African Studies graduate 2006
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
MAIMBO: Zambian, Attended MIAS in 2006
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.
BAKANJA: Tanzanian, MIAS MA Graduate
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.
GACHAIYA: Kenyan, MIAS student 2006
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
GAUT: American, Attended MIAS in 2005
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.
BENNO KIKUDO: Tanzanian, Attended MIAS in 2005
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
DENIS KATUSIIME: Ugandan, Attended MIAS in 2005
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.
MARTIN SIMA: Tanzanian, Attended MIAS in 2005
has a very good program that is useful for everybody.
AKETCH NG'ONG'A: Kenyan, Attended MIAS in 2005
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
WASONGA: Kenyan, Attended MIAS in 2005
is a very good program. One of its kind in the neighborhood. Its fire
should be kept burning.
JANINE COLEMAN: South African, Attended MIAS in 2004
thoroughly enjoyed my experience and have spoken to many people about it.
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.
American, Attended MIAS in
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.
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.
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.
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
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
ROMANE ST. VIL: Haitian,
Attended MIAS in 2000 and
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
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.
American, attended MIAS in 2001
The course was phenomenal.
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.
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.
Canadian, attended MIAS in 2000
I want to reiterate again how glad I am to have taken the African Cultures
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.
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
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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
American, attended MIAS in 1996.
The Nairobi experience helped him learn that God is not confined to fancy
Episcopal churches in the United States.
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.
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).
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.
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".
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".
American, attended MIAS in 1990, presently finishing his doctorate at
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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