Worthy cause behind art trip

6-year-old Wilsey.

Special to The Chart

6-year-old Wilsey.

Hobie Brown

Students at Missouri Southern have an opportunity to join one art instructor in one of her passions: reaching out to the less fortunate in Africa.

Josie Mai, assistant professor of art, will be leading a trip to Kenya this summer to volunteer in two orphanages.

“The trip is a three week trip in July,” she said, “which has been approved as a two-hour summer class through the Institute of International Studies.”

Though the class is not required, Mai hopes to get several students to go.

“Already, there are six students and two faculty members signed up,” she said.

As the participants go to Kenya, Mai hopes to provide each individual with a good learning experience.

“The title of the class is Service Learning,” she said. “So, I’m basically matching up the major skills of the student with the service in Africa. If they are a teacher education major, they’ll teach.”

Any individual interested in the class needs to start preparing for the trip now.

“First, they need to enroll for the class.” she said. “They also need to put down a non-refundable $300 deposit with the business office by the end of the month.”

Although the trip runs around $4,000, there is some funding available.

“There’s great financial aid available,” Mai said. “Scholarship money up to $1,500 is available, and anyone interested in going needs to fill out a form and get it to me by the end of the month.”

Mai’s trips to Kenya over the years have led to the forming a non-profit organization with her sister and brother-in-law, Sarah and Julius Were, to help with the Kenya trips.

“I’ve been going to Kenya since ’95, so about 11 years now,” she said. “I got my sister involved and we kept going so often, taking friends with us as we went, that we decided to form and organize, so I put in the paperwork to become a non-profit organization last May, which I’m still waiting to hear, so we are not an official tax-exempt yet.”

SoulfariKenya is still in its infancy stage, but Mai has plans for the organization.

“The whole point is that we want to be able to raise money and write grants,” she said.

The organization may be found on the Internet as well.

“Soulfarikenya.com is up and running, which anyone who is interested in the trip we do every summer can check it out,” Mai said.

As students start to prepare for summer internships and trips, Mai hopes they will consider going to Nairobi, Kenya with her group.

“There are 18 summer trips and this is the only one going to Africa, so this is a unique opportunity for Southern students,” she said.