Advocacy through education and specialized skill training is helping transform the diverse but struggling African country, Cameroon.
Representatives from the Dale Kietzman University, including University President Andre Talla and Adjunct Professor Midge Crossan presented the benefits of the school to La Verne Adjunct Professor Thomas Allison’s Advocacy class Feb. 27.
“Dr. Talla has been doing something that has been important to me for a long time; which is to respect a culture enough to convey the information and the support and the education that they need in order to improve their lives and then let them do that their way, not your way,” Crossan said.
Although the school is still straining to meet many of the basic needs for its ever-growing student population, their unique approach to education and training of indigenous villagers, said Crossan.
This is helping students to become a force to fix several of the issues that plague many people in Cameroon and other nations throughout Africa.
Crossan, an American with a background in strategic planning and project management, took the opportunity to teach graduate and doctorate courses at the school when Talla, a Cameroonian native, contacted her.
She said there needs to be more highly educated and skilled indigenous people, than outsiders who believe they are doing what is best for the people of African nations.
Development projects need more indigenous people to inherit projects such as The Water Project, cholera mitigation and job programs.
The Dale Kietzman University is teaching students business and project management skills that they take out and apply in their own communities.
Currently, a master’s student is using his skills to create a refrigerated ferry service, helping fishermen bring their product to the market safely and freshly.
Crossan said this service would make a huge difference in his impoverished fishing community, something that the student uniquely understands as a native.
Talla then spoke about his journey towards creating the school. He grew up in a small village with illiterate coffee farmer parents. At a young age he became an orphan—forced to survive on the streets.
Eventually he found access to education and his calling to become a pastor. After 28 years of serving as a pastor, Talla decided he wanted to do even more for his community.
“You have to start from somewhere; we want to start impacting the society,” Talla said. “We believe we must also teach transparency and integrity.”
Talla discussed the impact that the university’s students will have on Cameroon, a country hindered with government corruption, like many other nations in Africa.
Talla said the African Union has plenty of money, but does not properly use it on resources for the struggling people.
There is a great need for change, he said.
“Dr. Talla said that governments are only perceived obstacles to development and that there are lots of alternative ways to make a change,” Brittany Boiko, junior speech communication and political science major said. “It’s so great to know that they are integrating anti-corruption lessons into their education and I really think that will help benefit their country.”
“The lecture was really impactful and directed related to the class and our vision to help people in destitute situations,” Allison said. “Two students from the class have already contacted the school and want to offer their help.”
Katie Madden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.