04 September 2017
|Fr. Peter Balleis S.J, JWL Executive President, with Fr. Kevin Burke S.J, Regis University Vice President, and Nadia Asmal, Dzaleka Higher Education Project Director, posing for a group photo with the graduates (Garrett Berghoff, JRS Dzaleka)|
|We will never be hungry in thought or mind again, because we have been empowered through this program to find solutions to our community’s problems, to better our lives, and to better the lives of those around us|
Mark and Keros are among the 19 young men and women who graduated with a Diploma in Liberal Studies from Regis University on July 28th at the JRS run Arrupe Learning Center in Dzaleka Refugee Camp. Here they talk of the significance of this momentous occasion in their lives and share their hopes for the future.
July 28th 2017 was a historical moment for us. It was the day we received our Diplomas in Liberal Studies from Regis University*. It was a day of celebration. A celebration of our completion of the program, but also a celebration of the beauty we have experience in growing and learning together in a modern, global and multicultural “classroom” over the past three years.
This program has produced 19 new skilled Men and Women for Others: one educator, three business entrepreneurs, and 15 social workers. Amongst us we have creative teachers, passionate advocates, soulful singers, trailblazing leaders, and innovative problem solvers. These graduates are now running community projects, working for Non-Governmental Organizations and, acting in leadership positions around Dzaleka.
Each of us has tied our courses and lessons learned to our community projects. Keros, one of the recent graduates, created “Dzaleka Music Industry” which teaches people how to play musical instruments and write lyrics. Through the Interdisciplinary Arts class, Keros learned how to tell stories through music. “Through voice I can express myself, and bring about change in my community through lyrics”, he says. He writes about youth behavior, about HIV, and even about domestic violence. His most recent song “Union is Power” was performed at Dzaleka’s World Refugee Day and encouraged tolerance for peace.
When Remy, another fellow graduate, was not in the Arrupe Learning Center, he was busy running “TakenoLAB”, a computer programming school he founded to teach free computer and programming classes in the camp. Toussaint, Fredy and Alain, three other graduates, founded an internationally recognized youth empowerment organization, “Salama Africa,” that provides close mentorship and artistic management to over 100 refugees, offering them a creative and safe space to develop their artistic talents. And Mark, our Cohort Representative, founded “Night Literacy School,” a classroom for children with disabilities to learn English when unable to find a spot in the overcrowded camp schools.
The graduation ceremony marked the end of our student life and the beginning of a new one as full-time agents of change. We have learned that with great knowledge, comes great responsibility to empower and better our communities.
During the ceremony, we heard words from Father Peter Balleis, JWL Executive President, about seeing Dzaleka as a hub for social and creative innovation; words from Father Kevin Burke, Regis Vice President of Mission, on the importance of keeping hope, faith and love; and from Hon. Virginia Palmer, US Ambassador to Malawi, on never doubting our power to make a difference in the world.
They say, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” We will never be hungry in thought or mind again, because we have been empowered through this program to find solutions to our community’s problems, to better our lives, and to better the lives of those around us. Our thanks to Jesuit Worldwide Learning, to Jesuit Refugee Service, and to Regis University for giving us this once in a lifetime opportunity. Your efforts will not be wasted on us.
*The Regis Diploma in Liberal Studies is offered online through the Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) program. In Dzaleka, the program is implemented by the Jesuit Refugee Service at the Arrupe Learning Center.
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