Category Archives: Africa

Africa mixtape: political dissent and critique in hip hop in Dakar, Senegal

The Africa Mixtape is an ongoing collection of songs handpicked by SIT Study Abroad students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Today’s post is by Dylan McDonnell, an alumnus of SIT Study Abroad Senegal. During the spring of 2014, I had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Senegal, living primarily in Dakar, the administrative and economic capital. I studied music in several settings, most importantly at Guédiawaye Hip Hop, a community center dedicated to educating young people about the history and aesthetic elements of hip hop culture and production, as well as its potential for mobilizing local civic responsibility. Senegal boasts the third largest hip hop network in the world (after the United States and France), which has grown from cohorts of break-dancers in the mid-1980s into a much broader network of participants. Though most hip hop artists in Senegal perform … Continue reading

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Africa mixtape: Kenya’s socially conscious rap

The Africa Mixtape is an ongoing collection of songs handpicked by SIT Study Abroad students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Today’s post is by Becca Wolinsky, an alumna of SIT Study Abroad Kenya. Currently, Becca is working at UP Education Network in Boston, MA, helping teachers get certified. She is an aspiring physician, and in August she will begin a pre-med postbac program at Bryn Mawr College. In the spring of 2013, I studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya, with SIT.  The four months I spent there were the happiest months I’ve ever had. While in Nairobi, I had the privilege of being placed in a host family with Otto Stefan, aka Ottomatic, a rap artist in Nairobi. Ottomatic writes socially conscious rap in Swahili, English, and Sheng (a mixture of Swahili, English, and words from other languages). He is very passionate … Continue reading

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Africa mixtape: countering oppression with hip-hop in Tanzania

The Africa Mixtape is an ongoing collection of songs handpicked by SIT Study Abroad students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Today’s contribution is by Clara Moore, a University of Colorado-Boulder student and alumna of SIT Study Abroad Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology. While studying abroad in Tanzania this past fall, I had the opportunity to study music and meet some incredibly inspiring musicians throughout my time there. One of the most popular types of music for the younger generation is hip-hop. According to the Tanzanian artist Chaba, hip-hop has long been an elevating form of expression and a creative and revolutionary counterforce to all forms of oppression. In the early 1990s, the genre became immensely popular around the same time as the beginning of a multi-party democracy in 1992, and later the introduction of commercial radio stations in Tanzania in 1994. Tanzanian … Continue reading

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Spotlight: Leah Bitat

In April, we are launching a new series of stories highlighting the achievements of our staff called World Learning Voices. Our first spotlight is on Leah Bitat, field director in Algeria. We hope to use this series to (re) introduce donors, journalists and general public to the inspiring people who work here. Leah Bitat is currently the World Learning Field Director in Algeria, and has spent her career applying the values and practices behind inclusive education to institutions across the United States and internationally. We caught up with her after she conducted a Universal Design for Learning workshop at the World Learning offices on March 16th. Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to World Learning in Algeria. I’m from Alaska, and I was an educational advocate for kids with disabilities. My first job was … Continue reading

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Africa mixtape: Ghana Highlife

The Africa Mixtape is an ongoing collection of songs handpicked by SIT Study Abroad students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Today’s contribution is from Ben Cohn, an alumnus of SIT Study Abroad Madagascar: Urbanization and Rural Development. I was recently awarded a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship to study Ghana’s rich musical culture and traditions and to work with local educators to help more children exercise their musical voice. I do not play any instruments, nor can I sing, though I have always fostered a deep passion for music and fully believe in its strength as an agent of change. I’m seeking to find the spaces in which Ghana’s politics, economics, and social structure intertwine, reflect, and shape the music being produced. Working with Dr. John Collins, one of Ghana’s premier music scholars and SIT Ghana lecturer, I’d like to take it back to … Continue reading

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A Long Journey to Education

By the time he was 11 years old SIT Graduate Institute alumnus James Kassaga Arinaitwe had already lost his entire immediate family and was living with his grandmother in rural Uganda. They made a meager living from the few goats, cows, and chickens they owned, but couldn’t afford the tuition Arinaitwe would need to attend high school. Arinaitwe heard that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni would often help youth in need, but the presidential estate was 500 kilometers away. Arinaitwe was determined to further his education and came up with a plan to make the long trek to the president’s house and ask him personally for a scholarship. Read more about Arinaitwe’s incredible journey on NPR.

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America is losing Africa

This article was originally published on AllAfrica. By Priscilla Stone While investment in Africa grows at exponential rates from emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and South Korea, corporate America is only now catching up. Even though Africa will be home to eight of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the next five years, most Americans continue to think of Africa as a basket case of poverty, violence, and disease. Why have they been so slow to understand the potential of commercial engagement with Africa? And how can we change that? It is not just the business community falling behind. When it comes to pop culture, few Americans would recognize any African musicians beyond Ladysmith Black Mambazo from the Lifesavers commercials and might think all of Africa is like Disney’s The Lion King. Yet, Latin American and West African music … Continue reading

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Supporting Families Affected by Ebola

World Learning is working with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide training and support to the parents of families affected by Ebola. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,000 people in Liberia have died during the current crisis, more than in any other country affected by the outbreak. The three-day training program included information on Psychosocial First Aid, loss and grief counseling, child adoption, prevention of child trafficking, and foster care for children orphaned because of the disease. The training program aimed to provide parents with the tools and skills they need to support their children’s wellbeing during and after the Ebola crisis. Read more about the program on

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Day in the life of Durban, South Africa: Mandela still speaks volumes

Michael Sutcliffe, PhD, City Insight (Pty) Ltd, member of the World Learning Global Advisory Council Just over a year ago the world laid Nelson Mandela to rest in Qunu, a rural part of eastern South Africa. We shed many tears because Tata Madiba had touched the world. But we also celebrated because his spirit lives on in all of us. No matter whether we had only heard of him, or seen him on TV, or met him in person, everyone felt his presence, not the least most world leaders. He had spirit. He danced to share his joy, showing the world that political leaders need not only give boring speeches, but they must be alive to the real issues facing the poor and oppressed. He had energy. He was up at 4 am and went to sleep very late, meeting … Continue reading

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American Students Witness Democracy in Tunisia Up Close

This story was originally published on AllAfrica. By John Lucas Few can forget the images of young people flooding the streets of Tunis to protest a corrupt government during what would become the dawn of the Arab Spring. Nearly four years later a group of American youth are witnessing the birth of a new democratic nation, not on their TV screens miles away, but from those very streets. Sidi Bou Said, a town of winding cobblestone streets and distinctive white and blue buildings perched on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is the base of World Learning’s SIT Study Abroad program in Tunisia. Here, and in nearby La Marsa, nine students from American colleges and universities are living with Tunisian families while studying the country’s dramatic social change. Tomorrow, the presidential election will officially transition Tunisia from its interim government. … Continue reading

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