Next Stop: Edification
By Christopher Frost
“There is psychological pleasure in [the] takeoff … for the swiftness of the plane’s ascent is an
exemplary symbol of transformation. The display of power can inspire us to imagine analogous,
decisive shifts in our own lives, to imagine that we, too, might one day surge above much that
now looms over us.” — Alain de Botton, from his 2002 essay collection, The Art of Travel
In my three decades in academia as professor and administrator, I’ve discovered that a student’s worldview expands most reliably through study abroad. This type of journey, based on an itiner- ary of engagement, compels a sort of beholding — not merely “moving about.” Henry Miller un-
derstood this distinction, declaring in his 1957 memoir, Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch:
“One’s destination is never a place [per se] but rather a new way of looking at things.”
These photos I took demonstrate this point. In June 2010, I led San Diego State University stu-
dents on a two-week service-learning trip to Mnyakongo Primary School in the impoverished village
of Kongwa, Tanzania. The goodwill endeavor marked the first phase of an ongoing literacy project
spearheaded in 2009 by SDSU Theater Professor Emeritus Peter Larlham, recently named the inau-
gural Ray Sylvester Phi Kappa Phi Distinguished Service Recipient for 2014-16. The outreach so far
for the campus of 800-plus pupils and three-dozen teachers: erecting a library and stocking it with
thousands of books in English and Swahili, refurbishing buildings, helping install electricity and run-
ning water, and buying goats to provide milk for free lunches. And in July 2013, colleagues and I
shepherded students from St. Joseph’s College of New York, Boise State University and Texas State
University on an intellectual undertaking. St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford, provided the
way station for wide-ranging encounters across England over three weeks. Collectively called “Sci-
ence, Religion, and the Quest for Meaning,” the outings and discussions formed the culminating ac-
tivity for relevant courses taught at the home American institutions the prior term.
BSU students (left to right) Geoff Moore, Chris Canfield and Jesse Nettleton attend Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the Globe
Theatre in London as groundlings, the spectators in the Bard’s era who could afford only to stand in the pit below the stage.
Mnyakongo Primary School students perform in honor
of the arrival of SDSU visitors.
SDSU student Michelle Long and Mnyakongo Primary
School pupils carry a desk to a classroom.
Texas State, SJC and BSU students explore Stonehenge,
the famous prehistoric circular stone monument in
Christopher Frost (former Western Regional Representative and former SDSU chapter president) has
published photos in the quarterly Texas Books in Review, in his book Moral Cruelty: Ameaning and the Justification
of Harm (University Press of America, 2004), on humanitarian websites, and for campus purposes. He cowrote a
chapter about internationalizing honors programs in Preparing Tomorrow’s Global Leaders: Honors International
Education (National Collegiate Honors Council, 2013). Frost is Executive Dean of St. Joseph’s College of New
York Long Island. He specializes in psychology and interdisciplinary studies; his other works include Simone
Weil: On Politics, Religion and Society (Sage Publications, 1998). Email him at email@example.com.