14 Whitman School of Management students eager to experience the global economy, connect with global partners and learn about African customs and cultures are part of the school’s 2022 Kenyan Cultural Immersion. Pilot immersion trips allow students to connect lessons in the classroom and apply their knowledge to real-life global settings. The travel team can guide you on how to be a global manager and a better global citizen.
Spring 2021, Assistant Professor Elizabeth Wimer G’06 share with her class own travel experience Traveled to South Sudan and Africa, where she consulted and taught at a rural primary school. Wimer noted that the subject led to one of the most interactive and dynamic weeks of her global environmental management course. Through the stories and photos she presents, students are able to connect what they’ve learned in class with lesson concepts in places of the world they’re less familiar with.
“I thought to myself, if there is so much energy in class discussions, then if I can find a way to put them in Africa, there will be more energy, excitement, and extension of learning,” Wimer said.
After a few months, she was able to do just that. The tour was approved in autumn 2021 and the tour group landed in Nairobi, Kenya in May 2022.
All students in the Wimer class have the opportunity to apply for the Kenyan Cultural Immersion Experience at the start of the Spring 2022 semester. To be selected as a member of the travel team, students must apply and complete an interview process.
Once selected, the travel team is ready to offer a for-credit course at the Whitman School. Wimer set three main goals for the course: cultural education, team cohesion, and logistical preparation.
“Professor Wimer gave us a class that taught us a lot about what to expect when we arrived in Kenya. We discussed how to dress appropriately, the types of food we’ll try, and the appropriate greeting,” Jared Dowling ’24 Say. “We also learned a lot about cultural norms in the classroom.”
on the ground in Kenya
Dowling wanted to go to Kenya because of his interest in making global connections and immersing himself in another culture. “Going abroad is one thing, but going abroad with a purpose is quite different. I want to make a real difference with my partners and the people we met on this trip,” he said.
In Kenya, Dowling and his team were able to do just that. The week-long itinerary is packed, starting at 6am and ending around 10pm. This is not a holiday, Wimer stressed. Every day is a work day filled with opportunities to help partner organizations, communities and local refugees.
The majority of students’ time in Africa includes meeting with three global partners: Zaynah Khanbhai, founder of Merging Moundos and South South Women, a nonprofit focused on connecting voices and experiences in the Global South; Stacia Hiramine, Tirzah Bazaar’s Creative Communications Coordinator, an international non-profit that works with artisan refugees to sell handicrafts; and Children’s Discovery Centre, a shelter and education centre for orphans and abandoned children in Nakuru, Kenya.
Through connections to these global partners, students can see for themselves how a business might work differently in another country, especially one with limited economic opportunity, education and infrastructure.
In a business panel discussion led by Khanbhai, students had the opportunity to brainstorm and share ideas about bridging the gap between the Global North and the Global South relative to their generation. Through their conversations, students were able to learn more about the entrepreneurship necessary to support themselves and their families from the women who shared their stories about creating businesses. In addition, the tour group was able to meet local artisans and visit the workshops that make the goods for Tirzah Bazaar. From this visit, the students were inspired by the stories of artisans’ many entrepreneurial dreams and aspirations. Overall, the travel team found that employees at these nonprofits found it valuable to learn a skill set and use their skills as entrepreneurial opportunities.
However, it’s not all business. When not at work, the team is able to experience some of Kenya’s tourist attractions – going on safari tours, watching and participating in cultural drumming and dancing, tasting tea and visiting a giraffe centre.
back to America
The Whitman School provides such a global opportunity for students to learn about managing business operations across cultures. These opportunities allow students to use their education and experience to go out and change the world while becoming global managers.
“What we learned in Whitman’s class was great and helpful, but you can’t learn as much from a textbook,” said Isabella Simon, 24. “I think this trip to Kenya is about getting ready to learn about other ways of life and then get a first-hand perspective and make the world our classroom.”
The story of Anna Rooney, a junior studying Marketing Management and Finance at Whitman College