About this issue: It takes a community
On May 26, 2002, a day of bright sun and expectation,
hundreds of people crowded into Gunden Gymnasium in the Gingerich
Recreation-Fitness Center to celebrate with loved ones ascending
the wooden stage and receiving their undergraduate diplomas. In
caps and gowns, some wearing red sunglasses or tribal beadwork,
on rollerblades or carrying a cell phone or a rose, each graduate
was acknowledged for their individual accomplishment in the sights
of those who supported them in achieving it: families, professors,
friends, children and some who represented a whole village.
Graduating senior Elijah Metekai was joined by four family members
and a friend from his Maasai village in Olosho-oibor, Kenya, for
the weekend ceremonies as he became the second member of his nomadic
Maasai village to graduate from a U.S. college or university (less
than 10 people from his village have graduated from any college).
order for Elijahs mother Nonkabirika Metekai, brothers Simon
and Peter Metekai, cousin Simon Riyies and friend Moses Kinayia,
to attend, their fellow villagers sold
cows and handmade crafts to pay for around $10,000 in airfare and
other travel costs. Why? Because it is a community investment.
Kinayia, head of a Kenyan nonprofit development organization, described
the Maasai interest both in helping Elijah attend GC and sending
his relatives to Indiana to celebrate his accomplishment in an article
by The Truth (Elkhart, Ind.) reporter Thomas Bona 00. He said
the Maasai view education as a way to help them connect to the rest
of the world while preserving their own tradition.
Elijah said that his graduation is seen as a success for the tribe,
not just for him. He told Bona, Its really a very, very
big event in our country, he said. In our community,life
is very communal, not individualistic
If any worth comes
out of it, its worth for the community.
The Maasai support for Elijah was much more than monetary. In the
weeks and months preceding the trip, Maasai neighbors from the region
sent their greetings with the Metekais.
Kinayia said, in The Truth, For us, it is a miracle to have
a university graduate. If it was possible to walk to Goshen College,
you would see 6,000 people here.
Elijah arrived on campus in 1996 as a Mennonite Central Committee
trainee, working for physical plant with skills learned in Nairobi,
and through that time of service was encouraged to enroll at GC.
What he found here was not completely unlike his home environment:
a community. The Truth article said that the most interesting thing
that Elijahs relatives saw here including the large
airport, expansive highways and even Wal-Mart is how
Elijahs friends here have adopted him and treated him as family.
They are very thankful to Goshen College and the other people around
town who helped him and welcomed them during commencement
Brother Simon Metekai told The Truth, We are very grateful
when you come to our village, you can have as much beef as
you can eat.
With his degree in business information systems, Elijah plans to
go on to graduate school and, eventually, return to Kenya to work
for a nonprofit organization or government agency. He is one more
GC graduate who seeks to apply what he has learned in service to
community wherever it is found.
Throughout Goshen Colleges history, this similar sense of
community has graduated students who understand interconnectedness
and practice servant-leadership who know that the choices
we make as individuals can affect others, that we can expand our
thinking through the perspectives of others, that using our gifts
to understand and serve others is to further the kingdom of God.
In this issue, read about diverse alumni who are building and serving
communities in different ways from making homes handicapped
accessible to shaping how communities literally connect to one another
through transportation to introducing audiences to the world of
And these are just a few examples write and tell us more!