STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 07/29/2014
Empowering Somali Bantu Women
Jennifer Rosenbaum '08
The most rewarding lessons learned are those outside my comfort zones. Working as an intern for Gordon in Lynn--specifically International Rescue Committee (IRC)--has been the greatest educational outlet of my Gordon experience. As a Gordon in Lynn intern I serve as an advocate and coordinator of an IRC women's literacy class for the Somali Bantu refugees, organizing Gordon students to go to Lynn each week as childcare helpers and English tutors. Not only does the program offer English literacy classes to refugee women three days a week, but it also provides a safe, educational childcare program for their young children.
When I interviewed for the intern position, I struggled with feeling inadequate: "How could I, a young, middle-class, white person relate to refugee mothers who have spent their whole lives fighting for survival?" The Bantu are an ethnic minority group of Somalia who were brought in as slaves from Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique in the 19th century. When war and famine ravaged Somalia in the 1990s, the Bantu were forced to flee to Kenyan refugee camps, where they were treated harshly because of their low socioeconomic status. Only recently have they been granted refuge in the United States.
However, in working with these women I discovered that God created us to relate to one another, to live life alongside each other regardless of our differences. We all share the need to belong and to maintain dignity. My greatest goal is to empower the Somali Bantu women so they in turn can empower their children to educate themselves and seek an end to the injustice in Somalia.
As a premed biology major I am also passionate about medicine. This year I have been blessed with a fellowship with Gordon in Lynn, researching the reproductive health of resettled refugee women and the influence of Western medicine on their childbirth practices.
After graduation Jennifer (pictured at left) hopes to pursue a medical career in women's health, and practice in underserved cities. Photo courtesty of IRC Boston. International Rescue Committee (IRC) Boston:
Kimberly Kurczy '08
At home in Connecticut I was "Kimi." My peers in Africa called me "Kimberly." My Ugandan homestay family called me "Nissali" after the Chima clan's cleverest woman. My homestay Mom--wanting to reflect strength and love--asked to be called by her first name, Deborah, the name of the Hebrew prophet and judge.
Somewhere in translation the children on Kampala Road lost "hi" but caught "bye," so they waved hello while saying goodbye. The more impish of them yelled out "mzungu!" ("white person!"). What were they attempting to call out of me? Was it my meager attempt at Luganda: "Oli otya nnyabo?" ("Hello, how are you?")? Walking home on that road one day I fell on the red dirt. Would clever Nassali misstep in such a way? Would Kimi from Connecticut even be walking along Kampala Road in Mukono, Uganda?
The Genesis account tells of God calling out His creation--in breathing life and calling forth purpose. I contemplate the self that is daily called into being. How will the selves and callings within me merge into a unity? Who will be called forth?
Kimberly spent a semester at Uganda Christian University. View more of her photos...
Senior Theses: A Selection
To qualify for departmental honors, seniors must fulfill a thesis project in an area of interest within their major. 2007-08 projects included:
Sarah Viekman, art: "Illumined--A Meditation on Eastern Orthodox Christianity"
Ryan Harrington '08
The General Patton Homestead is full of interesting photos, documents and other objects of great historical importance. A dozen file cabinets contain historical correspondence, photocopies and newspaper clippings--all in need of proper organization, cataloging and preservation. My job, as an archival intern, is to identify each item and its significance, record the information in a Word file and catalog these documents to build an archival database for scholars to use. It is fascinating to try to connect the dots between seemingly unrelated documents--like trying to solve a mystery.
Ryan is a history major.