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TEACHING GROWTH: FGCU program shows Kenyan students how to farm

Posted at 11:08 PM, Apr 23, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. — University Colloquium, a class offered at FGCU, is bridging two places about 9,000 miles apart.

What started as a course on sustainability on FGCU's campus is now feeding villagers in Kenya. Peter Ndiang’ui is from Nyeri, a county in Kenya, comparable in size to Lee County.

"When I see my students here in the United States interacting and working closely with students where I came from in Kenya, it brings me more internal worth, more excitement, and joy than any money you can give me," he said.

The farmland in Nyeri is recovering from a decade of drought, but the parts that are usable, Ndiang'ui and his FGCU students are teaching students in Kenya how to grow their own community garden, and doing all this via Zoom.

"Technology has allowed for us to communicate these issues to people in all kinds of countries, people on other sides of the world, and share information that we've learned about sustainability," said Cheyenne Laurance, a student at FGCU.

The people in the village said they often went hungry, but now thanks to this partnership, they can attest to consistent access to food, right in their back yards.

Students like Lindsey Martinez say many of the families in Kenya receive a goat that's paid for by many southwest Florida non-profit organizations.

"There's a sense of pride when it comes to meeting new people and new ideas, cause maybe their ideas might inspire me to become something better, and change my perspective a little bit," said Lindsey Martinez, another FGCU student.

There's a special element of service to the project. If the goats have a kid, it has to be gifted to a neighbor. The small farms and tree planting is fixing food insecurity, square foot by square foot.

"The commitment to striving to be a little more responsible, a little greener, and trying to inspire other people around me to I think I can be a leader in that regard," Ivan Kovalchuk, another FGCU student said.

There is an opportunity to sponsor the education of the Kenyan students, email for details.