By James Chege
Head librarian
Maryknoll Institute for African Studies

MIASMU January Semester Begins

The second semester of the 2014/15 academic year at the Maryknoll Institute of African Studies began with a day of orientation on Jan. 23. The orientation brought together a host of new and returning students as well as field assistants. The total number of students hit an all time high for semester programs with a total of 36 students and 53 class registrations spread over six courses.

Students and field assistants listen keenly to the opening address by Father Michael Kirwen.

Students and field assistants listen keenly to the opening address by Father Michael Kirwen.

Proceedings began with a preliminary address by program founder and director, Prof. Michael Kirwen who welcomed the students and gave a brief introduction on the MIASMU programs by highlighting their focus on a systematic study of African cultures while at the same time fostering understanding of one’s own culture of origin. The assistant director Denis Odinga outlined what is expected from the students and field assistants during the semester, followed by the program editor, Father Joseph Oindo, a recent MIASMU M.A. graduate, who spoke at length about the unique MIAS method of learning.

Students and field assistants have a chat and a coffee break during orientation.

Students and field assistants have a chat and a coffee break during orientation.

The students and field assistants mingled and socialized over coffee and mandazi (a form of fried bread that originates from the Swahili Coast). Soon after it was back to business as the first research workshops were conducted in an interactive manner. The foundational class tackled among other things interview techniques that the students would be using in their field work, and the advanced class looked at some critical areas in writing M.A. thesis proposals as they ready themselves for thesis research and writing in the near future.

Veteran field assistants, from left: Francis Kumunya, Emma Massau and Victor O'Kubasu converse over coffee.

Veteran field assistants, from left: Francis Kumunya, Emma Massau and Victor O’Kubasu converse over coffee.

The semester has six courses: Spirituality, Personhood and Psychotherapy in an African Context taught by Drs. Hubert Pinto; African Spirituality taught by Prof. Laurenti Magesa; African Cultures: An Overview taught by Prof. Edward Oyugi; African Marriage and Family: Challenge and Change taught by Prof. Mary Getui, Justice; Peace in East Africa taught by Dr. Emmanuel Manyasa; and Moral Teaching and Practices of African Traditional Religion taught by Dr. Michael Katola.

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