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Time to Welcome Cohort Two

July 8, 2015 In Malawi Blog
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This blog is called Takulandirani, which means “welcome” in Chichewa, Malawi’s native language. Lakeland College is pleased to say “takulandirani” to the second cohort of graduate students, who began their stay in Wisconsin on June 12, 2015. Only two days after Cohort 1 had left campus, Cohort 2 arrived to begin their year of intense graduate study in the Masters of Education program. It was not long before they found their way to Lake Michigan to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

cohort 2 at the beach
Photo courtesy of Valerie Elzinga

Like their predecessors, the members of the new cohort are committed to improving early grade reading instruction in Malawi. I had the opportunity to speak with four of them last week: Mavuto Chiwale, Edson Dzimwe, Mike Kumwamba (Lakeland College B.A. graduate of 2007), and Frank Mbwana. All shared how energized they are by the opportunity to gain knowledge at Lakeland. All are passionate about education and their purpose in being in the graduate program.

Indications so far are that the group has eagerly jumped into their first two courses: ED741 Reading in the Content Areas and ED790 Literacy and Second Language Acquisition. Along with Mike Kumwamba, there are three other students in this cohort who received their undergraduate degrees at Lakeland. They are Alemekezeke Chitanje, Elizer Kalilombe, and Nancy Nyirenda. As Mike reported, for them, coming to Lakeland is like returning home.

The other members of this cohort are: Margret Mandala, Mary Mzama, Henderson Ngwira, and Yowasi Nkhambala. All eleven previously worked as teacher trainers at one of the seven teacher training colleges (TTCs) in Malawi. Four are from the TTC in Blantyre, two are from Lilongwe, two are from the newly-opened TTC in Phalombe, and one each is from Kasungu, Karonga, and Machinga.

Before leaving campus for the final time, the students in Cohort 1 founded a group called the Forum for Reading Education (FREE) to help them network with colleagues throughout Malawi. The forum has a Facebook page, which already has 167 “likes.” Please look at it and “like” the page so you can keep up with the activities of the group. This page will also be where students in Cohort 1 and students in Cohort 2 can share ideas with each other.

In addition to FREE, an advisory board was formed to support the work that FREE will undertake. Lakeland faculty and staff members serve on this board, and they are joined by two of the adjunct reading specialists who taught in the M.Ed. program last year. The purpose of the board is to provide advice and direction to FREE in its efforts to improve literacy and reading in Malawi.

The graduate students of Cohort 2 say they are looking forward to an amazing year. In the coming weeks, follow this blog to meet each of them in more detail and to witness how they are faring, what they are learning, and what they plan to do to support the improvement of early grade reading instruction in Malawi.

This post is written by Lisa Vihos on behalf of 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 the USAID or the United States Government.

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