This week, we complete the introductory profiles of the Malawian graduate students in Cohort 2. Meet Nancy Nyirenda and Yowasi Nkhambala.
Nancy Nyirenda (LC '09)
Nancy Nyirenda began her teaching career in Karonga in 1991 at a primary school. In 1997, she was assigned to work at the secondary level and earned a teaching diploma from Domasi College along the way. In 2006, Nancy came to Lakeland to pursue her bachelor's degree in general education. Very soon after graduating and returning home, she was posted to the Teacher Training College in Kasungu. She worked there until her departure this year for the Lakeland M.Ed. program. When she returns home a year from now, Nancy already knows she will be heading to a new post, this one in Chiladzulu, where a new TTC has just opened.
Nancy is excited to be back at Lakeland and finds that the campus does seem different to her. "It’s better than ever," she said. She finds the new front entrance especially beautiful and appreciates all the upgrades in the dining hall and the campus center. Nancy had three choices for graduate programs earlier this year: Nottingham in England, Chancellor College in Malawi, and Lakeland. She said it was easy to choose Lakeland for many reasons, but mostly because of the high quality of the education and the support provided by the USAID grant.
Nancy was widowed in 2001. When she left her three sons at home in 2006 to come to Lakeland the first time, her boys were ten, eight and five. At that time, they were supervised by her siblings. Now the boys are grown up, ages 20, 18 and 15. When Nancy's sons heard she had the opportunity to return to Wisconsin, they encouraged her whole-heartedly. She recalls them telling her, "Mum, go to Lakeland College. We will stay quite well even in your absence because God is with us. He was able to take care of us when were very young when you went there. Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He will continue the precious work He started with us. So use this chance!" She is glad to be back at Lakeland and glad to know that she has the support of her loving family.
Nancy is keen on working with other teachers and administrators in Malawi to incorporate reading through all the content areas. "Even in mathematics," she said, "there are words to be read. We need to collaborate with our colleagues and spread the word. We must focus on one goal, to improve early grade reading." Nancy's goal for herself while at Lakeland is to "improve my teaching skills. I will really be a teacher who will make a difference."
Yowasi Nkhambala lives in Blantyre with his wife, who owns a clothing and cosmetics shop. They have four daughters ages 25, 23, 18 and 15. Yowasi teaches now at the Blantyre TTC, but he began his teaching career 25 years ago in Thyolo district at St. Joseph Primary school. He taught there for five and half years before being posted to a secondary school where he became head teacher, the equivalent of principal. He went to Domasi College at that point to obtain his teaching diploma, continued to teach at the secondary level, and eventually went to Domasi for his bachelor's degree.
Even prior to receiving his degree in 2009, Yowasi had served as head teacher at several secondary schools: Makapwa, Lipho and Luchenza. He said "I am hard working and have leadership skills, so even though I was not fully qualified at first, I was trusted by the administration." Yowasi was pleased to report that because of high scores in learning outcomes in languages when he was working there as the lead teacher, Luchenza School was selected in 2006 to participate in a study that was examining best practices in teaching languages. "What I learned from that experience is that working hard really does pay. It was an honor to have our school recognized for its examination results and it motivated the entire school to stay focused and someday, hopefully, achieve even more."
Yowasi said that he'd heard a lot of excellent reports about Lakeland College before he came here. Now that he is here, he says that what he is experiencing far exceeds his already high expectations. He remarked in particular about the commitment of the professors, the quality of the instruction and the exposure to new teaching methods. "My wish," he stated, "is to acquire all this new information [offered by Lakeland College], so I can truly make a difference in our educational system 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.