Name: Juanita McGriff Kashoki
Class Year: 1964
Major: Business Education
Occupation: Marketing and Public Relations Manager (retired)
1. What is a fondest memory of your time at Livingstone College?
When I think of Livingstone College I generally remember two things. First, as a child, and then a young lady, that I was always going to go to college, and that that college would "obviously" be Livingstone. I went to Monroe Street Elementary School and JC Price High School in Salisbury, and Livingstone College was in Salisbury. Also, I was a member of Moore's Chapel AME Zion Church. Livingstone is an AME Zion school, and the church was basically on Livingstone's campus, so I grew up hearing all about Livingstone.
The other thing I fondly remember about Livingstone is really more like a feeling I get when I think about the school itself and my collective experiences there. I fondly remember the beautiful grounds, the diverse body of students (i.e., both local and international students), and the warm campus atmosphere. I was reminded of the nature and endurance of the warm student relationships during my visit to the States this summer. Mrs. Marjorie Williams Kinard (Class of '64) organized a luncheon for me to reunite with some members of my graduating class. Over ten (10) of us gathered in a restaurant in Silver Spring, MD, and had an absolutely wonderful time catching up and reminding ourselves of old times. I have been able to reconnect with several classmates through social media, and did so again with Phyllis Brooks while I was in the States. She and I got together shortly after and had a simply awesome time. All of this shows just how close our class was and is.
2. What did you learn at LC that has made a difference in your life?
Dr. Berta Hamilton was the head of Student Special Services when I was in school. Through her guidance and encouragement, I learned how to step out from the familiar and extend myself into new and challenging experiences, in order to further my education and develop as an individual. She taught me to be adventurous in life, and to be open to new experiences, environments, and people. For example, she encouraged me to take a job in the summer of 1963 in Putney, VT, at a program called the "Experiment in International Living." You can imagine how different an experience that was compared to Salisbury, NC! But it was a fantastic one, and is also where I met my husband.
From Livingston College, I also learned the importance of professionalism in the workplace. Mrs. Sawyer (then head of the Business Education department), taught me how and why I should be professional in my manner of dress, speech, and conduct. This greatly helped me in successfully navigating through my career and work life.
3. What are you most proud of in your life?
I am most proud of my diverse yet close family. My husband and I have 3 children (2 daughters and 1 son) and 4 grandchildren. We are "diverse" in the fact that we live on different continents (2 of my children are in the US), we have different citizenships (3 of us are Americans, the rest are Zambians), and we are often spread out across different countries (e.g., my husband and I spent a 3-month sabbatical period in South Africa; my grandson is in college in Namibia; and before two of our grand-daughters enrolled in Kenyon College in Ohio, they were in school in Hong Kong and Norway). We also have quite diverse personalities!
Nevertheless, despite being separated by distance and time zones, we remain very close. We cherish the times when we are all able to be in one place at the same time, make every effort to regularly see or talk to each other, and truly enjoy one another's company. We also make sure that we help each other achieve our goals, particularly the educational ones. My husband and I have a strong belief in the power and value of a good education, and have emphasized that to our children and grandchildren. They have taken this lesson to heart, and I am so proud that each of our children and grandchildren is, or soon will be, a college graduate.
4. Are there any things you wish you had done differently in your life?
I wish I had focused on special education - either in college or graduate school. I would have liked to work with people with special needs. I really like to help people.
Now that I am retired, I am focusing my efforts on the special needs of senior citizens in Zambia. I am a founding member of the Senior Citizens' Association of Zambia, and this work keeps me quite busy.
5. What advice would you give to the students on the LC campus today?
Considering the more recent social events related to race in America, I would encourage the current Livingstone College students to realize what a critical role each of them is playing in shaping the country's and the world's perceptions of African Americans, including the education of African Americans.
I encourage LC's current students to not give up hope, to not despair. Rather, believe in yourself and be confident that you WILL achieve your goals. You will have to work hard and be disciplined in order to achieve the goals, but it all starts with having an unshakeable belief in yourself. I would also ask that the students work to maintain the reputation of Livingstone. My class of 1964 left a legacy of good repute and success; I encourage the current students to do the same!
6. Please share your experience, thoughts and observations on living in Africa; it's challenges, culture as compared to the U.S., etc.
Based on my many years of living in Zambia and in what is called "the developing world," I offer the following recommendations and observation:
1. Challenge your preconceptions about Africa. I've observed that many people, including African Americans, have biases and prejudices against Africa. I think that more open-mindedness and a willingness to go beyond TV stereotypes will really help Americans better understand and appreciate the beauty of Africa and its people.
2. When you go to another country - whatever country it may be - try not to force American ideas on the people of that country. It is important to acknowledge and respect that country's culture. That country's beliefs, practices, and way of life are just as valid as America's.
3. I have learned that certain material things really don't matter and one can easily do without them. There was a long time in Zambia when importation of luxury goods was restricted and Zambia was struggling to produce even just the basic necessities. This period of "shortages" was very hard on everyone. Yet through it people found ways to survive and help each other out; and we managed. While we didn't have fancy chocolates or the latest video game players, and although we had to stand in long lines for things like gasoline, vegetable oil and flour, we managed. We managed because of strong bonds of family and friendship and efforts to help one another through the tough times; we managed because of an overall country mentality of "this too shall pass;" and we managed because that's just the nature of Zambian and African people - they are resilient. I am happy and proud to report that through a lot of effort, the Zambian economy has rebounded, and the country is now considered one of Africa's fastest developing countries. And almost everything that is available in the US is available in Zambia!