February 13, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

By Diane Whitelaw, Intern, King's Communications & Media Relations

Most students look forward to Reading Week as a time to relax and take a break from assignments and studying. But for 12 King's students, this Reading Week will be one to remember, as they travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to learn about poverty, development, and the African Union's role in it all.

The students are enrolled in either Developing Countries in Global Politics (2225E) or International Law and Organization (3345E), with King's Professors Dr. Thomas Tieku and Dr. Allyson Larkin, who are accompanying the group to Ethiopia's capital. While the trip was organized by the Political Science department, it was also open to the Social Justice and Peace Studies students taking these classes, as there is some overlap in course material and subject matter.

“The trip to Ethiopia will outline and make concrete what we learn in class,” says Dr. Tieku. “The course is designed to illustrate poverty and development, but is also designed to make students aware of the human impact. Ethiopia provides a rich place of development, specifically with the African Union, where they focus on the development of international laws and institutions. It's the perfect place to let students understand how ideas play on the ground. This trip also helps students imagine what they can be after graduation, and where their careers can go.”

On the itinerary are visits to the African Union Commission, the Canadian Embassy in Addis Ababa, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The group will be staying in a youth hostel, where they will debrief after each day's events.

One of the students headed to Ethiopia is Kayla LeBlanc, a fourth-year Political Science and Social Justice and Peace Studies double major. Kayla will be conducting interviews and observing diplomatic meetings as research for the course's major essay component throughout the week. Her focus is the African Union and the International Criminal Court. She says she's looking forward to “having the unique opportunity to witness first-hand the theories I've been learning about in the classroom being put into action through diplomacy.”

Also on her way to Addis Ababa is Jenna Strathearn, a fourth-year student pursuing an Honours Specialization in Social Justice and Peace Studies, a Major in Childhood and Social Institutions, and a certificate in Childhood and the Justice System. She is doing an independent study entitled The Politics of Humanitarianism, which is being supervised by Dr. Larkin. Strathearn says she is “looking forward to hearing from Canadian NGOs and their perspectives on Ethiopian social issues.”

She explains she is “excited to visit different institutions of governance to gain an understanding of their local political goals. I think we're lucky to have this opportunity to partake in an experiential learning trip through King's because it's opening doors of research and connections for us that other institutions may not offer, so it's a really exciting prospect! I'm also really looking forward to meeting locals and getting to know the authentic Ethiopian culture (especially the food!)”

The 12 students and two faculty will return on Saturday, February 21, in time to resume classes after the break. King's wishes them a safe, exciting, and educational journey!