DukeEngage nixes programs

Two DukeEngage summer programs have been cancelled because of political instability and the threat of increasing violence in Kenya, officials announced Tuesday.

CampWISER in Muhuru Bay and a program in Kakamega with the Foundation for Sustainable Development have been removed from the list of group projects for DukeEngage's first summer.

Kenya, a country experiencing ethnic violence following national elections in December, was placed on Duke's Restricted Regions List by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Development yesterday. Duke students are prohibited from traveling to any countries on the list using University funding, said Sherryl Broverman, program leader of campWISER and an associate professor of the practice of biology.

"I was in favor of putting [Kenya] on the restricted list in December right after the elections with the understanding that anyone could petition to have it re-examined," said Broverman, who is a member of the International Travel Oversight Committee, which recommends countries to be placed on the restricted list. "I had hoped that there would have been a quicker resolution to the political violence, but it has continued. That does not mean in two weeks there might not be a return to normalcy."

The Feb. 15 deadline for DukeEngage group projects will not be extended to accommodate any trips to Kenya if the country is removed from the restricted regions list later in the semester, said Eric Mlyn, director of DukeEngage and director of the Duke Center for Civic Engagement.

"At that point, it'd be too late to fund," he said, noting that the early deadline is in place to allow for sufficient time for students to complete DukeEngage workshops, get vaccinated and secure travel passports and visas.

The Women's Institute of Secondary Education and Research-a non-governmental organization planning the construction of an all girls school in Muhuru Bay-sent 12 Duke students to the region last summer as a DukeEngage pilot program.

Broverman, co-founder of WISER, said she thought it would be best to tell students now that campWISER is unlikely to run this summer so that they could look into other options as soon as possible.

"We did not want to string students along hoping Kenya would improve and leave them with nothing to do over the summer," she said.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday to the Duke WISER listserv, Broverman wrote that individual projects with WISER could be considered in March after determining the safety of the region, but grants for the trips would need to be secured from sources other than DukeEngage.

She added that the Muhuru Bay region is not a target of the violence in Kenya.

The more than 100 students working for WISER on campus will not be affected greatly by campWISER's cancellation, as fundraising and awareness efforts at Duke for the women's school are not connected to the summer program, said WISER Co-founder Andy Cunningham, a senior.

"This is barely even a rip," said sophomore Patrick Messac, head of curriculum development for campWISER. "This is a temporary setback. We're still moving forward with WISER."


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