Marisa OlsonContact Email:
Students in the University’s Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences study the lives and cultures of people all around the world and it’s not often that they meet the subjects of their studies face-to-face. So when Adjunct Professor Bretton Alvare arranged for two members of the East African Maasai tribe to visit his Introduction to Sociology class, it was a rare and powerful experience.
On April 15, 2010, the tribal elders and chosen Maasai ambassadors, Joseph and John, visited campus on their way to speak about Maasai culture and the challenges facing the tribe at the United Nations in New York.
Joseph and John led the class through discussions on a wide variety of topics of sociological concern, including the persistence of patriarchy and gender inequality among the Maasai, the effects of colonialism and neocolonialism on the Maasai way of life, and rites of passage in the Maasai tribe. Discussions gave way to performances as Joseph and John recited a traditional Maasai poem and led the class in singing an ancient Maasai celebration song.
Upon their departure, the tribal elders expressed their desire to return to University of the Sciences on their next visit to the United States - a first step to establishing a lasting relationship with the University community and an invaluable chance for our students to have a personal encounter with representatives of a culture so far from their home.