Yesterday afternoon, as we were preparing a summer lawn party to celebrate the presence of the Malawians at Lakeland, the sky went very dark in the east and we determined we should move the festivities inside. Good thing. By 5:15, we had a deluge on our hands. But thanks to the usual Lakeland teamwork, the party went on undisturbed. Nearly eighty guests braved the rain and joined us in the Wehr Center to welcome the Malawians. The invitees were members of Lakeland’s two leadership giving groups, the 1862 Society and the Founders Society. It was a time to make new connections and find old friends. (Three of the students graduated from Lakeland once already: Kapera Mlowoka `08, Ndamyo Mwanyongo `08, and Phillip Nachonie `06.) Today’s post begins a series in which I will introduce each student to you and his or her hopes and dreams for education in Malawi. As President Eck put it last night in his remarks to the gathered friends, "...We are all here to make the world a better place. The Malawians have traveled a long, long way. They have left their homes, jobs and families to dedicate themselves to becoming the best teachers they can be. Let us raise a toast to them tonight and in the coming year, let us support them on this journey.” And, let me add, remember to bring an umbrella.
Meet Kapera Mlowoka `08
When Kapera Mlowoka graduated from Lakeland College in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in general education, he never would have imagined that one day, he would find himself back here.
Earlier this year, when one of his fellow teachers at the Teacher Training College (TTC) in Kasunga where he works shared the information that Lakeland was offering the opportunity to receive a masters of education degree with support from USAID, Kapera knew immediately that he must return, and as he put it, “grab this chance to acquire the best possible skills in reading instruction.”
Kapera explained to me that in Malawi, a person does not necessarily get the job that he or she wants or is best-suited for, but the job that is available. There is a great need for teachers in Malawi and people go into this line of work simply because there are so many openings.
He would like to see that those who become teachers truly have a passion for teaching. If not at first, then he hopes he can inspire this passion in them. He works hard to get his teachers-in-training to realize the importance of education and the value of what they are undertaking together. They must understand, he said, “that the development of any nation starts with education. Children must learn to read.”
Kapera is seated, surrounded by his students at Kasunga TTC, wearing a white shirt and black tie
Kapera is from Mzimba in the north of Malawi, and works at the TTC in Kasunga about 120 miles from his birth place. He and his wife and four boys live in special housing at the school. The oldest son is nearly 18 and the youngest is 8. Kapera told me that when he was here the first time getting his undergraduate degree, his youngest child was born while he was away. He did not meet his son until he went home three years later.
Kapera is thrilled to be back at Lakeland. The biggest change, he said, is the new front entrance which has added “great beauty” to the campus. But, mostly, everything is just as he remembers it and just as he expected it to be. When he arrived on June 21, he said it felt like he had been here yesterday. With his warm, winning smile, he added, “I feel as if I never left.”
Left to right, standing: Overton Simbeye, Margaret Mulaga, Kapera Mlowoka `08, Elymas Tembwe, Phillip Nachonie ’06, Michael Simawo, Ndamyo Mwanyongo ’08, Bertha Singini; seated: Benjamin David, Elias Lyson
This post is written by Lisa Vihos, the Director of Sponsored Programs and Research at Lakeland College. The program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this blog are the responsibility of Lakeland College and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.