By Thomas Kyle-Milward
Marketing & Communication
TACOMA, WASH. (Feb. 28, 2019) — Pacific Lutheran University is pleased and honored to welcome to campus “Witness Uganda: A Docu-Musical on the Complexities of Caring” for the 4th biennial Ambassador Chris Stevens Memorial event on March 6th.
The critically acclaimed musical theater sensation, written and composed by former Peace Corps volunteer Matt Gould and actor and UgandaProject co-founder Griffin Matthews, is a departure from the event’s traditional lecture format, poignantly exploring the challenges and pitfalls of doing humanitarian work by inviting the audience to reflect critically on service, leadership and care in both global and local contexts.
“At the most basic level, Americans are often taught that we are the greatest culture and greatest civilization that mankind has ever known — and that we have a responsibility to (spread) our faith, values, beliefs on the rest of the world,” Gould said. “And there is a lot of good that Americans do and that American culture practices.
“But there are also things that we have to learn from other cultures, and I think the biggest blunder that we make is going abroad and thinking that we’re there as teachers or as saviors or as helpers rather than as members of a global community who are engaging in a conversation and a dialogue about how we can better serve our fellow humans.”
Gould and Matthews will be performing excerpts of their award-winning work from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Anderson University Center’s Chris Knutzen Hall, and will open a dialogue with students to talk about their experiences, both positive and negative, working for their grassroots organization that provides free education, housing, mentoring, and basic needs to a small group of Ugandan students living in Kampala in order to empower, ignite, and impact global change.
“I’ve never seen a show that focuses so much on questions about development and cross-cultural interaction, and really leaves the audience like grappling with questions and thinking about these issues,” said Katherine Wiley, PLU’s Peace Corps Prep Program Coordinator and an integral part of bringing this event to campus.
To mark the 2nd anniversary of the PLU’s Peace Corps Prep Program, there will also be a panel presentation by PLU and Peace Corps alumni – Lucas Gillespie ’16, Jihan Grettenberg ’12 and Colton Heath ’14 and Director of the PLU Health Center Elizabeth Barton – on the topic of “Critical Perspectives on Volunteering” from 3:40-5:00 p.m. in the Scandinavian Cultural Center.
“I’m hoping that I will leave the students with some important questions about what their roles and responsibilities to our global community are,” Gould said. “And I hope that they do the same for me. I hope that I walk away with some real questions about what my work is and what the work ahead remains.”
The Ambassador Chris Stevens Memorial event is co-sponsored by the Wang Center for Global Education, the Center for Community Engagement and Service, and PLU’s Peace Corps Prep program. It seeks to celebrate the life of an extraordinary public servant and former Peace Corps volunteer killed on Sept. 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya.