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Center for African Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Center for African Education

Research and Fieldwork > Students


Ellen Frierson (International Education Development): Language, Literacy, and Technology) -Limbe, Cameroon, Summer 2010

Ellen interned with two local community-based NGOs in Limbe, a coastal city in the Southwest region of Cameroon. One of the NGOs is the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation (LUKMEF), which has program areas in peace, social justice, and sustainable development. LUKMEF brought Ellen on to develop a new initiative within the social justice program called the Media Justice Project, so her primary goal while there this summer was to lay the groundwork for that project and try to find sustainable funding for it. Once the project gets off the ground, it will provide support and training for journalists and attempt to promote a free, reliable, and independent media sector in Cameroon.

Ellen's also interned with the Eden Media Group, a program of the Centre for the Environment and Rural Transformation (CERUT), a local agricultural development NGO. Eden Media is LUKMEF's partner for the Media Justice Project. Their projects include the Eden newspaper and radio station, and they focus on using the media for peace, rural development and community outreach. Ellen worked with the Eden journalists to produce the weekly Social Justice Radio Program, assist with editing for the newspaper, write a column on children's issues,
facilitate workshops on human rights, and write proposals for the Media Justice Project.

Theresa Yohannas (International Education Development: Humanitarian Issues) - Michigan State University, Summer 2010

This last summer, Theresa received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) to study Elementary Amharic, one of the common languages spoken in Ethiopia. She conducted her fellowship at the Summer Cooperative African Language Institute (SCALI) where--in addition to intensive language instruction--she is participating in several research forums, lectures, and cultural events. Her desire to learn Amharic was motivated by her interest in gender/humanitarian issues that impede education in Ethiopia and greater East Africa.  A favorite experience for Theresa was connecting with African professionals and area researchers who have shared their perspectives and country expertise with her. In the future, Theresa hopes her language acquisition will support her goal to study and work in the region.

Sharon Kim (International Education Development: Policy Studies) - Uganda, Summer 2010

Sharon spent her summer working in Uganda for BRAC, a southern development organization whose mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. Her focus was on understanding the context of the complex gender issues that are hindering the rights of young girls and women in Uganda. Through BRAC's Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) program, Sharon was able to engage in qualitative research to help identify key issues in the girls' communities and to use this information for the development of a new program/intervention to help mitigation such issues.

Samantha Basile (International Education Development: Policy Studies) - in Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, Summer 2010


Samantha received a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to learn Swahili during the summer of 2010. After taking an intensive Swahili course, she used her stipend to fund a one-month research trip for her IP to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Her data collection goal was to capture the personal narratives of natives because she wanted to find out what relationships and experiences shape daily life in eastern Congo and western Rwanda in order to understand how her  interactions with these stories could be used in development discourse to initiate relevant positive changes.


She started in Kigali, Rwanda, where she stayed at a local guesthouse owned by an American man and his family. Samantha took the bus to Goma, DRC where she traversed the volcanic-rock-ridden “streets” that resembled mountain passes rather than roads to interview school teachers, domestic servants and children selling peanuts at the port. She then talked with a group of boys who made their living doing freelance photography for special occasions and girls selling corn. She also walked inside homes of displaced people from the recent civil war to see their suffering and hear their voices. During a day trip to the small village of Kitchanga with the head of a Congolese NGO, Samantha interviewed the Mayor about the major problems and solutions to development in his area. In the beginning weeks of August, Samantha took a 7-hour ferry ride on Lake Kivu from Goma to Bukavu, where she toured the city and met UN troops.


Samantha continued 15 minutes over the border to Kamembe in Cyangugu, Rwanda where she stayed with her Swahili teacher’s Uncle Jacques, a doctor at a local hospital, and his family. Here she toured schools and watched the Rwandan elections unfold. She then flew out of Kigali to return to New York and begin consolidating her research for her IP. She is currently working on a short video and picture presentation to show to New York high school students. Samantha will integrate these videos and pictures into her IP.

Janny Chan - Zambia and China

Janny's research situates itself on the intersection of "China" and "Africa" in Zambia. She is interested in the interactions among Chinese and Zambians across multiple work settings, including the telecommunications, construction, and textile industries. Specifically, She wants to know how larger political, economic, and historical processes shape the Chinese and Zambian experience, bringing them together in the most unlikely of circumstances, and how they themselves negotiate their positions, understand and construct their experiences within these larger processes. In previous fieldwork, she closely examined Chinese and Zambian interactions at a Chinese-owned multinational telecommunications company. Next year, she hopes to do long-term fieldwork using the data I previously collected and comparing the data to Chinese and Zambian interactions in the construction and textile industries. Janny's research aims to localize studies on China and African relations and try to ascertain how people are relating to each other on the ground.

Showcase and Workshop of Student Research on Africa

Last year, Teachers College had a number of students presenting on Africa- and Diaspora-related topics at the prestigious Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Conference held in South Carolina from the 22nd to the 26th March, 2009. To give these students the opportunity to showcase their research in preparation for this conference, the Center for African Education hosted a showcase and workshop on the students' research

Students who presented included:

·         Stephanie Bengtsson

·         Carolyn Casale

·         Michelle Reddy

·         Annie Smiley

·         Matthew Thomas

·         Maika Watanuki

·         Christine Pagen

·         Donna Tonini 

Please click on students’ names to access their presentation abstracts.