The Dopoi Center is a Prescott College field station in rural East Africa which houses joint efforts of Prescott College students and faculty and activists of the Maasai Indigenous community.
The Dopoi Center is a Prescott College field station in rural East Africa which houses joint efforts of Prescott College students and faculty and activists of the Maasai Indigenous community to promote cultural survival and environmental justice in Maasailand.
The Center is located on 10 acres in the southern Rift Valley, bordering the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve, nestled in a rural landscape among Maasai villages, herds of cattle, and wildlife such as elephants, big cats, giraffes, and dozens of species of birds.
At Dopoi, students participate in village life and learn first-hand the meaning of sustainable livelihoods and the practice of academic activism in an international context. They share the classroom with Maasai teachers and students in a setting that respects Indigenous knowledge. Classes in many disciplinary areas are taught at Dopoi, typically in the Spring semester, and graduate courses are available at other times; students are also welcome to do Independent Studies, Senior Projects, and Internships.
Brief History of Dopoi and the Maasai Community Partnership Project
The program was first created in 2004 by a cohort of Prescott College students and faculty, and representatives of the Maasai community. In 2007, funds were secured to purchase 10 acres of land near the town of Talek, to provide a more permanent home for the program. Beginning in 2008, students of the field studies program began to research a case of disputed community land at a place called Mau Narok, and a movement for land justice was born of that work which today leads to the anticipated return of 30,000 acres of ancestral homeland. That success led to a wider recognition of the importance of research to Maasai activists, and to the fuller development of the Dopoi Center as a research institute. Today the Dopoi Center has a classroom/office complex, faculty housing, kitchen and staff quarters, and housing for students.
The Center hosts community meetings, training, and researchers, and is a multilingual and multicultural resource for the Maasai and Prescott College communities. In 2015, Maasai Field Guides launched a labor association to promote Maasai economic empowerment, supported by the work of Prescott college students and faculty who created together with the Maasai Field Guide Training Program (link to MERC website page on MFGTP). Students have also supported Maasai women’s activism through collaborating on water projects and beading cooperatives.
Prescott College – MERC Institute
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