Kenya Immersion Experience

William James College faculty Claire Fialkov and David Haddad began their work in Kenya in 2013. Over the past decade the work has been supported by the P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program and Women First International. Through the William James College Kenya Immersion Program, over 24 students have had the opportunity to travel and become part of the learning community with our Kenyan colleagues. This filming was done in the Summer of 2023. “Uniting for Mara” tells the story of the power of relationships among the education, hospitality, healthcare, and environmental sectors in the Maasai community.

Video produced by Chris Ocampo.

Thank you to our partners and the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health at William James College

  • William James College
  • The P&G Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
  • Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program
  • Women First International Fund
  • Fairmont/Accor Hospitality
  • Claire Fialkov, PhD, Professor and Co-Director Kenya Immersion Program
  • David Haddad, EdD, Professor and Co-Director Kenya Immersion Program
  • John Sankok, CEO, Community Health Partners
  • Stephen Keriga, Fairmont Safari Club, Fairmont/Accor
  • Carol Sankale, Director, Konema Women
  • Daniel Sayialel Nampaso, The Nampaso Family and partner in Uniting for Mara project
  • Kelley McNary, Doctoral Student in Clinical Psychology, William James College

Pilar Tucker

woman standing next to rhinoWhen initially getting accepted into the Kenya Service Learning and Cultural Immersion Program in 2019, I was ecstatic! The sole idea of having the opportunity to travel to the motherland and immerse myself into the Kenyan culture to build women’s empowerment and strength-based and gender-inclusive programming, was mind-blowing. I was convinced that 2020 would be the “best year yet”, and then COVID-19 happened, and changed everything. I was discouraged, and like many others around the world who had high expectations and new year resolutions, I felt like my 2020 dream of going to Kenya, was deferred. However, fast forward to three years later, I received an email from Dr. Fialkov and Dr. Haddad, sharing the exciting news that my peers and I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya for the 2023 cultural immersion program. I was excited, but to no surprise, nervous and apprehensive. I thought to myself “Is this real?” “Are we really going?” “Is my dream still deferred?” “Should I get my hopes up?”, and in May 2023 my thoughts were dispelled. My peers and I joined Dr. Fialkov and Dr. Haddad on a life changing trip to Kenya. 

While there, we had the privilege and honor of diving deeper into global mental health research and interventions. We learned more about the Kenyan sociopolitical history, public and mental health standards, and embraced the rich cultural practices. To be a part of such a dynamic culture, work with phenomenal women, men, and children, and serve as a conduit for change, was a dream come true! I am eternally grateful, inspired, and committed to learning, serving, and making a greater impact in multicultural and global mental health. 

Pilar Tucker, 5th Year Clinical PsyD Candidate WJC 

Kelley McNary

woman laughing feeding giraffeThe immersion trip to Kenya, offered by the CMGMH program at William James College, was a life-changing opportunity. As someone who has spent significant time researching the culture, history, and politics of Kenya and the Maasai community, it was surreal to be in the location and with the individuals I had learned about for several months. One of the most impactful aspects of this trip was connecting with community members and seeing how our research and clinical work directly impact individuals and communities abroad. We are not just working with numbers, spreadsheets, and theories. We genuinely collaborate with community stakeholders and play a role in positive change. This experience allowed me to grow as a clinician and brought even more passion, gratitude, and hope into my work.