Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Memorable Meeting in Minnesota

Today was a special day. I had a memorable meeting with Dr. Barbara Poole Galyen, a friend of many years, who is based in California, but has been visiting relatives in Minnesota, a short drive from Northfield, where I live.

Barbara and I met for the first time in 1995, when she came to Tanzania as a volunteer on my research project on epic folklore of Northern Tanzania, sponsored by Earthwatch. We worked on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria.

Barbara told me that time, and has kept telling me, that that experience sparked her interest in Africa and launched her on her subsequent professional life. She went to Kenya to work for the United States International University, and later started a consulting company dealing with cultural issues in the global context. She has traveled the world and made many connections.

We were delighted to meet today, having met for the last time in 1997 in Kenya. We shared stories about our time in Ukerewe, current politics, and a new course I will be teaching in the spring--"Muslim Women Writers." I signed for her a copy of my book, Africans and Americans: Embracing Cultural Differences, which relates to our mutual interests as cultural consultants.

Here is what Barbara herself wrote today on her facebook page about our meeting:

I enjoyed a wonderful visit with Dr. Joseph Mbele who was the one who originally introduced me to Africa in 1995 on an "Earthwatch" adventure. I give him credit for changing my life completely after I moved to Kenya as a result of our fascinating studies on a remote island in Lake Victoria, TZ. Born in Tanzania, Dr. Mbele is currently a professor at St. Olaf College in MN where he continues to work on special projects around the world! He's inspiring me again to get more involved in heart-felt projects globally.

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