Warmth for the east African nation of Tanzania flowed through St. Cajetan’s on the Auraria Campus on Oct. 23, as University of Colorado Denver researchers and statewide organizations welcomed a Tanzanian ambassador to a networking event. People dressed in crisp business attire mixed with folks in bright Tanzanian clothing to display their projects in education, healthcare and research.

Applause filled the room as Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United Republic of Tanzania to the United States, arrived at approximately 4 p.m. and made her way to the podium to address the crowd, joined by Chancellor Jerry Wartgow. The event served as an opportunity to welcome Maajar to CU Denver, an active research partner in Tanzania, as well as a networking mixer to allow the ambassador to learn how Colorado organizations, including the Friends of Tanzania, are involved in her resource-rich and culturally diverse nation.

“It’s exciting to meet so many people who love my county,” said Maajar.

Networking mixer of Tanzanian Ambassador’s visit

The inside of St. Cajetan’s was decorated with pictures from CU Denver’s work in its Tanzania Field School in anthropology, scientific research, and teaching opportunities in healthcare and science.

“I want to thank all of you for what you are doing in Tanzania,” said Maajar. “You give opportunity to people who would never have had such opportunity.”

Carolyn North, assistant vice chancellor of the Office of International Affairs, spearheaded the event, referring to it as a love fest for people involved with research and philanthropy in Tanzania to network with each other.

“To find that we have this many community members is really spectacular,” she said after explaining her desire to see CU Denver faculty in Tanzania team up with the Denver-based organizations.

Allison Silvaggio, a kindergarten teacher at STEM Magnet Lab School in Northglenn and doctoral student in Science Education, traveled to Tanzania while earning her PhD in XSci, a CU Denver experiential science education research collaborative that takes Colorado teachers around the world.

“I think I learned more in this class than my entire graduate program, and it is an excellent graduate program,” she said.

Charles Musiba, PhD, from the department of Anthropology, is involved with much of the work the university is doing in Tanzania. He and some of his students have made an exhibit for a Tanzanian museum due to open in December about human origin. The exhibit included studies of Tanzania’s Laetoli historical site, where some of the oldest human fossil footprints to be discovered are.

“CU Denver students, particularly those in the anthropology program, have helped the National Museum and House of Culture in Tanzania develop a first comprehensive and culturally appropriate human origin exhibit in Tanzania,” said Musiba. “This has been a labor intensive and yet academically challenging project in which over 15 CU Denver students have participated in the last three years as part of their field school experience in anthropology.”

Brent Breithaupt of the Bureau of Land Management stood by a life-size image of some of the footprints at the Laetoli site and explained to others their significance.

“This is a one-of-a-kind site. This is one of the most spectacular sites on the planet,” said Breithaupt. “What Charles [Musiba] is doing cannot be understated.”

Neffra Matthews, also from the Bureau of Land Management, admired CU Denver’s initiative to expose its students to an international field school.

“If you look around at other universities, most of their field schools would be in the U.S,” she said. “The international component is a wonderful opportunity for students.”

On her way out of St. Cajetan’s at the end of the event, Maajar had her picture taken next to the life-size image of the Laetoli site.

PHOTO: Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar, the United Republic of Tanzania ambassador to the United States, meets with students during the networking event hosted by the University of Colorado Denver on Oct. 23.

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