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NMSU's 'Global Connections' ventures to Africa after dinner

A "garden tour" of Africa will kick off the third year of "Global Connections," the popular lecture series sponsored by New Mexico State University's College of Arts and Sciences.

Man looks through video camera lens
Phil Lewis, professor of creative media in NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences, prepares to shoot a scene on location in Africa. (Photo by Scott Saiz)
Young African girl wearing headphones
A young girl in Africa is interviewed for Phil Lewis' documentary 'Arising Together,' about the changing ideas on women and education throughout the region. (Photo by Scott Saiz)

Philip Lewis, professor of creative media who recently spent a month in sub-Saharan Africa filming a documentary, will give the first talk at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Gerald Thomas Hall Auditorium. His talk, "Arising Together," explores Africa's changing ideas on women and education, and is based on his documentary that shares the same name.

"I had never been to that part of the world before," Lewis said. "From the landscape to the architecture, to those social and cultural mores, to the joy of listening to the music and watching the dancing, it comes together in such a way that just takes my breath away and gives me hope for the future."

Lewis' documentary, which has been two years in the making, follows seven African women who visited NMSU over the last two years to learn extension education through a program called Service Learning for Women. This College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences' program seeks to inspire and empower women in agricultural careers, so that they can excel as leaders in local and global communities.

"The film is an attempt to 'take the cultural temperature of Africa' to see how 21st century education of women differs from before," Lewis said.

He and collaborators Linda Stout, NMSU alumnus and the film's producer, along with Scott Saiz, senior studying digital filmmaking, began their expedition in Ghana this past July. They traveled south of the equator to Mozambique and Malawi, interviewing locals and documenting the NMSU program's impact.

"We found a very different view of women's roles amongst people who were 40 years and above versus those who were in middle school and high school," Lewis said. "The young girls are strong and forthright in their desire to succeed."

In his discussion, Lewis plans to screen photos and present a "garden tour" of the continent while engaging the audience about the region's changing culture.

"Many people do not know much about Africa, and since I was there making a movie, we photographed many beautiful images and made videos that will illustrate Africa in a way that the public has never seen before," Lewis said.

The "Global Connections" series features faculty members' exotic trips around the world. The purpose is to provide an opportunity for members of the campus and surrounding community to listen and ask questions of NMSU professors about the kind of global first-hand experiences they might never otherwise encounter.

The College of Arts and Sciences series begins in September and will be offered on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in Gerald Thomas Hall where patrons will have an opportunity to dine at 100 West Cafe prior to the talks, thanks to a new partnership with the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The 100 West Cafe is a hands-on laboratory for students in NMSU's Hotel, Tourism and Restaurant Management program, offering buffet-style dining every Wednesday for $8. The series, which is free and open to the public, will run through April 9.

For information about the 100 West Cafe, visit their website at http://aces.nmsu.edu/100west/index.html.