A Full Day at Africa University!

We had a full day yesterday, starting with a delicious breakfast at the Ubuntu Center, followed by an informative campus tour. Then we met with VC Furusa for half an hour in his office conference room. After I introduced the family, he gave a heads-up on what is happening now and his vision for the future of Africa University, based on his perspective as Vice Chancellor and CEO. He has a grand over-arching vision, and he’s taking real steps toward making it a reality. At the end of his talk he said he’s holding on to the vision of establishing a good community-based medical school at AU that will serve as a model for all Africa. That was nice to hear! Everybody was well impressed with him. 

After that meeting we went to the Luncheon prepared at the Dining Hall for our family team and the Faculty of Health Sciences. We were seated so a family member was between two faculty members (and vice versa). The Dining Hall again outdid itself in preparing a delicious meal for us, and the Dean commented that I had played a big role in shaping the department’s understanding of healthy versus unhealthy foods. One of the faculty members told a cute story to say that even though I wasn’t teaching anymore, our graduate students made sure that my precepts lived on by saying “That’s not the Dodge way” when they saw friends eating something unhealthy. That got a good laugh from everyone. 

Everyone was given a chance to quickly introduce themselves with a brief sentence or two about what they do, and we each learned more about the person(s) sitting next to us in our conversations during lunch. I learned a lot about the basic malaria research program that AU is engaged in that is making a major impact on malaria control in Zimbabwe. The head of the research department also commented that AU was launching a project to determine how best to model and teach healthy lifestyles on a community-wide basis because they want AU to be in the forefront of teaching healthy lifestyles in communities across Africa. 

After lunch we rode the van over to the Old Mutare Mission. We saw the large mission church where John and Lois were married, the school in which they taught, and the building named for Dad because of his impact on the life of the church during his tenure as bishop. Then most of us went on to climb Mt. Chiremba. Everyone made it to the top after a fairly arduous hour-long climb, and all agreed the magnificent view from the top made the climb worthwhile. 

After we got back to our rooms, we quickly showered and dressed for the Chancellor’s Dinner held at the Holiday Inn in town. Our family group was seated at two large tables where we had a great view of the Africa University choir that was singing for the event. Jim Salley, the Associate Vice-Chancellor for Development introduced the various dignitaries attending and then surprised me by asking one of the staff to bring me a microphone so I could introduce my family. I gave a quick introduction of each member of the family, and was later told by many how impressed everyone was by my family. Then the featured speaker for the evening was introduced and he gave a quick ten-minute summary of what his presentation will be about tomorrow. He is the executive vice-president of the Boeing Corporation who is being given an honorary degree tomorrow. He commented on how warmly he had been received at AU and how impressed he was with the university and especially the people of the university. 

The dinner prepared by the Holiday Inn was outstanding, and the Master of Ceremonies said he wanted everyone to notice how many vegan choices there were (each identified with a “V” on the menu). I was impressed as I would never have expected the Holiday Inn to prepare such a healthy meal. Jim Salley announced that an excellent portrait photographer was present to take individual and family portraits outside the dining-room and encouraged everyone to get a portrait made after dinner. He put us on the spot by saying he wanted our family to get a family portrait! Having been put on the spot, we did get a family portrait, and I must say it turned out nicely.

We got back to the Ubuntu Center about 9 PM and headed for our rooms to get a good night’s sleep! All in all, it had been a good day. Today is graduation day, and it will be another busy day for us.