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Guest lecturers help campus celebrate Kenya and Tanzania

10/6/2011 —


Nina Jablonski
Noon, Friday, Oct. 14
"Human Origins Research at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania”

Robin Wiszowaty
Noon, Wednesday, Oct. 19
"My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah"

Khanjan Mehta
Noon, Friday, Oct. 28
"Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Ventures in East Africa”

Penn State New Kensington begins its "Countries of Focus" program with three lectures, Oct. 14, 19 and 28, celebrating the culture and heritage of Kenya and Tanzania.

Nina Jablonski, professor of biological anthropology at Penn State, is the first guest lecturer at noon Friday, Oct. 14, in Room 140 of the Science Building. Jablonski's lecture, “Human Origins Research at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania,” explores one of the oldest prehistoric sites in the world. The gorge is located on the Serengeti plains in northern Tanzania, and is considered by many scientists to be the cradle of mankind. Excavation of the site has uncovered tools that are believed to be more than 2.6 million years old. The inhabitants were not modern humans but  primitive hominids, a group comprised of chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and humans.

The next guest speaker is Robin Wiszowaty, author of "My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah," at noon Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the campus Forum Theatre. Wiszowaty lives in her adoptive country of Kenya where she serves as program director with Free the Children, a non-profit organization that helps children to make a difference in their worlds.  As director, she implements long-term development projects in partnership with local communities. Wiszowaty's book was the selected book for the Freshman Summer Reading Program at the campus. The program was instituted at the campus in 2005 to encourage reading and critical thinking and to provide a shared experience among new students. First-year students at the campus had a homework assignment over the summer -- read a book, chosen by a committee of campus faculty and staff and prepare to discuss it during orientation. Small group discussions are slated with fellow students, faculty and staff throughout the semester.

Khanjan Mehta, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program at Penn State University Park, will give a talk at the New Kensington campus at noon, Friday, Oct. 28, in Room 140 of the Science Building. Mehta's lecture, "Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Ventures in East Africa,” examines a program he helped to create that connects rural populations in Kenya and Tanzania with doctors in nearby cities using “telemedicine.” The project uses medical diagnostic equipment along with existing cell phone networks to create a health monitoring system. According to estimates, 97 percent of East Africans have access to a mobile phone.

Sponsored by the Honors program and the International Committee at Penn State New Kensington, the lectures are a part of "Countries of Focus: Kenya and Tanzania," the year-long, campus celebration of international cultures. The lectures are free to the public.

For the past five years, the campus has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Students, faculty and staff will explore and reflect on various aspects of Kenya's and Tanzania's history, culture and economic, social and political reality.

For more information contact Bill Hamilton at 724-334-6717 or hw7@psu.edu via email.

For more on the "Country of Focus" program, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Academics/InternationalPrograms/43845.htm online.

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