COA~INTERVIEWS COA Inquiring Photographer Sarah Barrett ’08 did some sleuthing for the magazine during her first term at the college, asking incoming students for the real story on coming here: “What did your parents say when you told them you were going to earn a degree in human ecology?”
Dominic Mutanga ’04 (right) speaks to visitors at his opening at the Blum Gallery
International Initiation Life was busy for Dominic Muntanga ’04 last June. Six days after he graduated, Muntanga presided over the opening of the Blum Gallery’s “Unmasking Tribal Africa," an exhibit of masks used in initiation ceremonies from the Makishi dancers of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. “This exhibition is a way to expose myself to the rich culture of my homeland,” said Muntanga, who hails from Victoria Falls. “It is my way to discover what the masks stand for.” Then it was off to the United Nations in New York City where Muntanga accepted an Award of Distinction from the Ars Electronica Festival at a June 23 ceremony hosted by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The award was for Tonga.Online, a project bringing internet technology to rural Zimbabwe, which Muntanga helped create during his internship at the AustriaZimbabwe Friendship Association. It is focused on digitally uniting Tonga communities that were divided by the building of the Kariba Dam fifty years ago. When the villages were resettled, the Tonga, who are known for their unusual and complex music, were separated by a river and portioned into two countries. By bringing computer centers to the remote regions along the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the Tonga can talk among themselves, despite their physical barriers. Though Muntanga has great plans for Victoria Falls, including creating a cultural center, he is currently gaining the political experience he expects to need by working at City Hall in downtown Manhattan.
“Their response was a blank stare and a nod of the head, as if to insinuate that they knew what I was talking about. But they had no idea.” ~ Kelly Enberg ’08 “They asked me, ‘What is that? I have never heard of it before.’ And I said, ‘It’s a liberal arts degree that teaches students to become environmentally and socially responsible citizens. It combines art, economics, human studies and environmental sciences together to make a difference; to make the world a better place.’ So they answered, ‘That’s interesting.’” ~ Simon Lombe ’08 “Their first response was, ‘What is human ecology?’ It is funny though, because right now I still don’t know although in general I guess I am getting the idea, so as I get more filled in, I phone home and tell my parents and they feel pretty good about it.” ~ Sean Berg ’08 “My parents accepted the idea because they knew that it was a way that I could have a career in many different fields. It wasn’t as limiting as a career in only biology or environmental science. Having a degree in human ecology could be molded into whatever I wanted it to be.” ~ Kathleen Tompkins ’08 “Human ecology . . . I guess you’ll be going to graduate school then.” ~ Kathryn Hasset ’08