Duke Students Conclude Two Months of Projects at WISER

The WISER campus has been particularly busy over the last two months as we play host to twelve hardworking students from Duke University. This team of undergraduates has traveled to Muhuru Bay as a part of DukeEngage – a civic engagement program which sends over 400 Duke University students across the globe to pursue a service experience with a community partner. The program aims to provide meaningful contributions to host sites, such as WISER, while also serving as a service-learning experience for the students.

WISER has been a DukeEngage partner for more than a decade and was one of the first-ever international placement sites for Duke students. Each year, DukeEngage students collaborate on projects with both the WISER students and faculty as well as the greater community of Muhuru Bay.

Luckily, a sense of community hasn’t been hard to find for the latest group of Duke students. Despite being thousands of miles from home, the group notes that both WISER and Muhuru Bay have embraced them as welcomed visitors.

“From the first moment that we came here, wherever we went someone was calling out to us saying ‘Welcome!’” said Hawo Ibrahim, a Duke sophomore studying Biology. “Everyone knows you are not from here, and they try so hard to make you feel like a part of the community.”

The twelve Duke students have engaged in a variety of projects over their two months at WISER. Their work has targeted various health and education outcomes in Muhuru Bay, aiming to improve the lives of girls and youth living in the area.

2018 projects included:

  • Delivering sexual and reproductive health education sessions to WISER students who then lead youth-focused sessions in the community
  • Developing curriculum for science, engineering, robotics, and writing composition clubs at WISER
  • Supplementing English, science, and math lessons in 18 local primary schools
  • Assisting a community-based intervention targeting improved mental health and the elimination of HIV/AIDS
  • Creating documentation systems and other organizational tools for WISER’s community-based partnership which provides clean water for thousands of people

Of course, while WISER and its community certainly benefit from these projects, the DukeEngage students get a lot out of the summer as well. From valuable life lessons to tangible work experiences, visiting students gain much by spending time at WISER.

“I think it really teaches you how to be mindful, to be a good listener, and to try to understand things rather than judging them or comparing them to something that you already know,” said Lucia Zerbino, a Duke junior studying history and global health. “Trying to do your best even though it might be difficult – I think that’s a good skill and a way of approaching life that is very translatable to our lives back at Duke.”

As the Duke students return home this month, they carry with them the knowledge that they are the latest in the long line of DukeEngage participants to leave their mark on the WISER family. We want to thank these students for their hard work and look forward to welcoming another group of students and projects in May 2019!

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