University of Wisconsin–Madison

Outreach Scholars Program

The Outreach Scholars Program is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students with extensive experience living, working, or studying in Africa. Our scholars have diverse backgrounds, with a range of experiences in different regions across the continent. Outreach Scholars try to dispel myths and break down the simple stories that are so often recited about Africa.

Outreach Scholars enrich school curricula and community events by sharing their area studies expertise, life stories, and artistic skills. As they facilitate learning experiences that go beyond the textbook, Outreach Scholars expand students’, teachers’, and community members’ understanding of different African contexts.

To invite an Outreach Scholar to your school or community event, please contact the African Studies Outreach Coordinator

Meet some of our Outreach Scholars

Jennifer Lien

Country: Nigeria
Expertise: Egúngún masaquerading, Yoruba twins
Past presentation topics: “Double Power, Double Trouble: Memorial Art for Twins in Yorubaland”

Jennifer Lien is an undergraduate studying anthropology and pursuing a certificate in Material Cultural Studies. She was a student co-curator of the Whirling Return of the Ancestors exhibit at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery.


Mwita Muniko

Country: Kenya
Languages: Swahili, Kuria
Expertise: Language pedagogy, critical theory, literary criticism, cultural studies
Past presentation topics: Let’s Learn Swahili!

Mwita is a graduate student and a teaching assistant in the department of African Cultural Studies. His research is on traditional initiation practices in Africa with a major focus on circumcision ceremonies.


Mary Dinsmore

Country: Madagascar
Languages: Malagasy
Expertise: Environmental history of Madagascar, human-wildlife conflict, conservation of lemurs and their significance (both ecological and cultural)
Past Presentation topics: “Leapin’ Lemurs: They do more than just like to ‘Move It, Move It!’”; “Madagascar: Looking to its troubled past to influence its uncertain future”

Mary Dinsmore is a Ph.D. student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She is interested in primate conservation and how humans interact with and utilize local resources in Madagascar.


Invite an Outreach Scholar to your classroom

To invite an Outreach Scholar to your school or community event, please contact the African Studies Outreach Coordinator

Popular requests:
-Classroom presentations
-African storytelling
-Intro to an African language (for example Yoruba, Swahili, or Arabic)
-Cultural demonstrations
-Educational programs and curriculum consultation

Community Feedback

“The presenters had first hand knowledge of living in Senegal and were extremely enthusiastic about the time they spent there. They were engaging speakers and understood what would be interesting to the audience. They were just wonderful–I think my students and I could have listened to them for hours! I would love to have them come back!” – Jennifer Wolfe, French teacher at Verona Area High School

“Professor Songolo was able to provide much more clarity to a difficult situation and my students benefited immensely!”—Carol Brey, teacher at Waunakee High Schooll

“I want to thank you for all your help in contributing to our African culture day. Students were absolutely delighted and want to do it again. They not only learned so much, but they had fun, too. They wish all their school days could be like this”—Barb Cnare, teacher at Watertown High School

“They really engaged the students, and captivated their interest. I had students comment on how helpful it was. We were really happy with the presentation, and my students really gained a lot. Thank you so much for setting everything up!”—Susan Baldwin, teacher at Adams-Friendship High School

“We had a WONDERFUL visit this morning, and the students welcomed Olayinka most warmly. Students were very comfortable with her, curious, and interested. Thank you so much for helping to arrange this amazing cultural exposure.”—Gail Sterkel, teacher at Monona Grove High School

“We can’t thank you and Theresah enough for the amazing program on Friday. The kids could not stop talking about it. Theresah did a beautiful job of teaching them age appropriate things and making it fun. We will for sure have the program back in the future!” –Sarah Popp, teacher at Our Redeemer Lutheran School


Our Outreach Scholars receive ongoing support as they develop and facilitate presentations. As they share their knowledge and expertise in classrooms and community settings, Outreach Scholars gain valuable public speaking and teaching experience that they bring with them to their future careers.