Graduate credits SIA for successes

SIA Grad Shingi Mavima

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Shingi Mavima has had a year of accomplishments. The School of International Affairs graduate visited for the first time in Zimbabwe the headquarters of the nonprofit he founded. He also published a book of his poems relating to his experiences growing up in Africa. He says both endeavors were possible because of his time at SIA.

Mavima founded CLUBHOUSE International in 2011 as an SIA student. The organization, focused on rejuvenating Zimbabwean communities, encourages academics, sports, community service, and citizenship among the children in these communities. In September, CLUBHOUSE held their third annual festival in Mutare, Zimbabwe, to celebrate its success. This was the first time Mavima attended the festival, as he has been in the U.S. for his education since 2006.

“It was a remarkable experience to be there, and the event was well attended,” he said. “I got to meet with all the students the organization funds, my entire Zimbabwean family came, and my sixth grade teacher, who is still teaching, broke into tears as I gave a speech.”

Mavima had always wanted to serve his community and provide opportunities for school children. Growing up as the son of a college educated mother, a father in the U.S., and grandparents with careers in the medical field, Mavima’s family knew the value of education. He realized many children in Zimbabwean communities grow up without familial support, nor monetary support for education, and committed himself to change this social paradigm by helping the children.

Since founding the organization, Mavima has worked with the expertise of others to develop CLUBHOUSE International and implement programs to help the younger Zimbabwean population. However, he specifically credits SIA professors Dennis Jett, and Tiyanjana Maluwa, as well as his classmates, with giving him strategies and ideas in implementing and realizing his goal of helping his Zimbabwean community and supporting his poetry.

Mavima still keeps in touch with Jett, who gave his former student career advice. “Professor Jett took time out of a family holiday to chat with me by phone because I had emailed him about a resume update, and that shows a phenomenal amount of empathy,” Mavima said.

In addition to Jett, Mavima said Maluwa always expressed support and encouragement for his poetry writing. Mavima published his first book of poems, The Mirage of Days Old, this year. In 2011, the SIA student body hosted a formal ball and silent auction. He was able to read his poems at the ball, and donated some copies of his poems, which he bound himself into a booklet for the silent auction.

“My fellow students were generous to let me perform my poems, and based on the response I got from my peers and other guests, I realized that my poetry had more than just a parochial appeal,” he said. “I had no way to know it then, but the poems I put together and bound into a booklet myself became the skeleton for my book. In a sense, the book would never have been if it wasn’t for SIA.”

Mavima’s anthology of poems is a collection of different life experiences and lessons, from Pan-Africanism to heartbreaks, to the source of AIDS, domestic violence, and personal tragedy.

Mavima is in his second year in the African-American and African-Studies doctorate program at Michigan State University. He has just finished writing another book, a semi-autobiographic tale of growing up in Zimbabwe. Upon finishing his doctorate, he hopes to teach as he continues to write, before returning to Zimbabwe to focus on developing the nonprofit and other civic engagement.