February 2017

My last letter to you was during Advent. Lent begins this week! Even though I’ve let so much time pass, please know that you remain in my mind, heart, and prayers.
It is relatively quiet here on my porch in Beni, this Sunday afternoon. Street noises float over the wall. Cars bump along the rutted, dirt road. Motorcycles (the local taxis) race by and beep. Passersby call out greetings. Our cat (and rat-catcher) slumbers on a chair beside me. Tomorrow it's back to work, though!
Lately administrative work fills my days—meetings, writing project processes, implementing projects, evaluating programs. While that is not particularly newsworthy stuff, it is part of the bigger work of Congo Initiative and UCBC.
So, what kind of administrative work has demanded my time? The new Advanced Studies Program (ASP): 25 by 25 is claiming much of it these days. The goal of 25 by 25 is to facilitate UCBC faculty and staff to obtain graduate degrees. Specifically, the ASP program will support 25 staff members to obtain advanced degrees (master’s or doctoral) by the year 2025.

Here is some perspective:

  • Of the 16 Congolese staff members here at UCBC whose primary responsibility is teaching—
        • none have their doctorate degrees
        • only three have master's.
  • Of the 15 Congolese staff members whose primary responsibility is administrative, but who also teach some courses—
         • only two have doctorates
         • only six have master's degrees.
  • None of the remaining 17 staff members who work in various administrative capacities have degrees beyond their graduat  or licence (the equivalent of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, respectively).

Thanks to support from Christ Presbyterian Church (Edina, MN), Daystar University (Nairobi, Kenya), Bamberg University (Germany), Westwood Endowment, Crowell Trust, The Elsevier Foundation, Bread for the World, Messiah College, and several individual and anonymous donors, we are on our way. Two staff members have already begun master's programs. Five will commence this spring, and another will begin his doctoral program in the fall.

Administrative time also goes toward faculty development initiatives. This year, instead of offering topic-focused, single-session workshops, my team is working with small groups of teachers around shared interest areas. One team member is working with applied sciences teachers to develop hands-on activities and simulations for electronics and physics courses. Another team member is helping a group improve their syllabi. I’m working with teachers interested in incorporating reading and writing into their courses. The English teachers are exploring the "scholarship of teaching and learning," and examining how to assess their teaching practice as research.
So, I look to the week to come, try to prioritize time and tasks, and thank God for the privilege of participating in the audacious vision of Congo Initiative, “a community of Christ-centered Congolese leaders and global partners united for the transformation of lives and a flourishing Democratic Republic of Congo.”
PS: By the way…Did you know that CI—

  • Has a new logo, a new look, and a new way to tell our stories?
  • Is celebrating 10 years?

Please check out and share the news on our new website!