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African Studies

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March 26, 2018

Dr. Wing-kai To and Rebekah Caylor are set to embark for Africa on separate grant-funded projects, thanks in part to the university’s participation in the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders (MWF).

Ms. Caylor, a Bridgewater resident and Lakeville police dispatcher, is traveling to Angola in June, while Dr. To, academic director of the Minnock Institute for Global Engagement, will travel to Uganda in May. 

Ms. Caylor and Dr. To have each received reciprocal exchange grants in partnership with African colleagues. The $5,000 grants fund the Americans’ travel to Africa, where they will seek to promote continued collaboration with the fellows who visited the United States through the MWF program.

“I’m terrified to travel (to Africa) by myself but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how they handle things there and show them how we handle things here and meet new and interesting people,” Ms. Caylor said of her journey to Huambo, Angola.

There, she will see a familiar face in Maria Rosa Celeste Segunda Dias, an employee in the Angolan prison service who visited campus last summer as part of the MWF program. Ms. Caylor took part in the fellowship as a “peer collaborator.”

Dr. To is partnering with Jacquiline Amongin, a member of parliament in Uganda, and a representative to the Pan-African Parliament.

While in Africa, Dr. To plans to lecture about international relations between Africa and the United States and China. He also hopes to learn more about Uganda and the challenges it faces around topics such as agriculture, poverty and development. He hopes to explore future collaborations between Bridgewater State and Uganda.

“I think it’s an important step for Bridgewater State to have more people go to Africa to exchange ideas,” said Dr. To, who is also a history professor.

Dr. Wendy Haynes, interim assistant provost for global engagement, is accompanying Dr. To on the trip.

Ms. Caylor, who is also a matron for local police, plans to talk with Africans about how women working in prisons and police stations can be liaisons between male officers and female detainees and reduce the potential for false allegations of sexual misconduct. She also hopes to provide sexual harassment and CPR training.

Ms. Caylor plans to visit an Angolan prison and anticipates learning from her African peers as well as teaching them. And, she is confident the fellowship program has sparked an international friendship.

“I’ve got a sister across the ocean now, absolutely,” she said of Ms. Dias. “She’s just got a heart for service and that’s what I have a passion for as well.” (Story by Brian Benson, University News)

Maria Rosa Celeste Segunda Dias, left, and Rebekah Caylor
Maria Rosa Celeste Segunda Dias, left, and Rebekah Caylor
Jacquiline Amongin, left, and Dr. Wing-kai To