The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Quest for the golden ticketƒ?"to Africa, perhaps

By Ted Clement

Every morning, Anthropology professor Sonia Patten wakes up at 6:30, brews coffee, and opens her copy of The New York Times. On a recent morning, something special inside the paper caught her eye. Op-Ed columnist Nicholas Kristof (right) was promising to take a student with him to a developing nation, all-expenses paid, to travel and report. Patten thought her students in Peoples and Cultures of Africa might be interested in entering the contest. ƒ?oeMac students do some incredible things,ƒ?? she said. And she assigned the applicationƒ?TMs 700-word essay as the classƒ?TMs first writing assignment of the semester.

Cora Polsgrove ƒ?TM09 heard about the contest from Patten, her professor, and decided to enter. ƒ?oeWho wouldnƒ?TMt want to go to Africa for free?ƒ?? said Polsgrove, an Anthropology and Sociology double major.

Polsgrove expects many students nationwide to enter the contest and believes her unique experience with Africa will help distinguish her. ƒ?oeAfrica and I have a strange relationship,ƒ?? Polsgrove wrote in her entry essay. ƒ?oeMy parents went to Ghana to write and photograph a news story for the magazine Mother Jones. I owe my existence to a botched sacrificial ritual that was supposed to get my mother a husband but resulted in her getting pregnant with me instead.ƒ??

Kristof, a foreign affairs columnist who frequently covers the Darfur genocide, believes American colleges and universities fail to adequately teach students to understand the world outside the United States.

ƒ?oeUniversities areƒ?”oh so slowlyƒ?”recognizing that they need to prepare students to survive globalization,ƒ?? Kristof wrote when he announced the contest in his March 21 column. ƒ?oeBut most overseas studies programs are both too short and too tame.ƒ??

For Kristof, traveling abroad is the best way for college students to learn about globalization. Sponsoring the contest, Kristof writes, is ƒ?oeAn effort to put my companyƒ?TMs money where my mouth is.ƒ?? Kristof believes the addition of a college studentƒ?TMs ƒ?oefresh eyesƒ?? will help him notice more in Africa.

ƒ?oeIƒ?TMve seen so many poor villages and so many malnourished kids that Iƒ?TMm not sure I can adequately convey the horror of it,ƒ?? Kristof wrote in an e-mail message. ƒ?oeCertainly a student, seeing these things for the first time, can describe the scene with a credibility among other students that I canƒ?TMt.ƒ??

Kristof is looking for a ƒ?oemasochistƒ?? from an American college or university who is not intimidated by mosquitoes or malaria and has no problem experiencing a bout of diarrhea. In announcing the contest, Kristof writes that he hopes the student who wins the contest will be changed by witnessing human suffering.

ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm not saying youƒ?TMll turn into an aid worker,ƒ?? Kristof wrote. ƒ?oeBut Iƒ?TMm hoping youƒ?TMll remember how much of the world lives and carry that memory through your life and let it affect your work and priorities.ƒ??

Polsgrove is not intimidated by what she will see if she wins the trip. After catching meningitis during her last week of high school in Indiana, Polsgrove wondered nonchalantly, ƒ?oeWhatƒ?TMs a little malaria?ƒ?? She realizes that 10 days may not be much time in Africa, but believes the idea of the trip still ƒ?oesounds cool.ƒ??

Other Macalester students are not as interested in the trip. ƒ?oeWhy would you want to do to that?ƒ?? asked Greg Moscow ƒ?TM09. ƒ?oeYouƒ?TMre risking disease and youƒ?TMre traveling with some guy you donƒ?TMt really know for 10 days.ƒ??

Geography professor and African Studies coordinator Bill Moseley agrees with Kristof that it is critical for American students to study abroad but wonders what a student will be able to learn during a short 10-day trip to an impoverished nation.

When Moseley taught in January at the Macalester-sponsored Globalization and the Natural Environment program in South Africa, he noticed that students were at first shocked by the poverty they witnessed in South African townships. ƒ?oeI think whatƒ?TMs important is if you spend enough time in one place to catch onto the nuances of whatƒ?TMs going on,ƒ?? Moseley said.

Even though the trip is short, Patten said she believes students who prepare themselves in advance will thrive in a challenging environment. Many students nationwide may enter the contest, but Patten believes Macalester student will do well because of their strong writing skills, deep passions, and ability to think critically. ƒ?oeI think that Macalester students are clearly creative enough,ƒ?? she said.

ƒ?oeTheyƒ?TMre going to be even more intrigued and will want to go back,ƒ?? Patten said, who describes herself as being passionate about Africa. ƒ?oeThey canƒ?TMt wait to go back.ƒ??

The deadline to enter Nicholas Kristofƒ?TMs ƒ?oeWin a Trip with Nickƒ?? contest is April 20. The entry form is available online at

View Comments (3)
More to Discover

Comments (3)

All The Mac Weekly Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • S

    Sebastian BallSep 12, 2019 at 3:58 am

    Thanks for sharing superb information. Your site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles.

  • W

    Warren SharpSep 10, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Just desire to say your article is as astounding. The clarity on your submit is simply nice and i could assume you’re an expert in this subject. Well along with your permission allow me to snatch your RSS feed to keep up to date with drawing close post. Thanks a million and please continue the gratifying work.

  • E

    Edward HudsonSep 5, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    This is my first time go to see at here and i am in fact impressed to read all at one place.