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Community Engagement from a Global Perspective

January 3, 2017

When Tyler Boesch transferred to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities as a sophomore, he had towering goals in his sights. He was looking for opportunities to make positive change in the Twin Cities community and he also knew that studying history would lead him on his journey. With a double major in history and global studies, Tyler has been able to to connect his studies of other countries and times to engagement with his local community today.

Wanting to burst out of the campus bubble, Tyler began teaching English in neighboring communities through the International Institute of Minnesota, an organization that supports new Americans as they build lives for themselves in this country. This experience working with individuals from all over the globe turned out to be an excellent opportunity for him to relate his studies to life outside the classroom. His training in analyzing the roots and motivations of historical societies has helped him to recognize the complex context that influences present-day groups of people — something that is especially important to consider when working with immigrants and refugees, as Boesch is.

Back on campus, Boesch is busy studying African history and is specifically focusing on the postcolonial history of Tanzania. He has worked closely with Professor Allen Isaacman and PhD candidate Virgil Slade, taking a comprehensive look into Tanzania's past. This research would prove to be more applicable than he had first imagined. Boesch began to find ways to tie his academic knowledge into his community engagement experience. He explains that “having a historical perspective on some of the different groups coming into the institute gave [him] a better understanding of the situations they they were coming from.”

Boesch is currently completing his senior year with the help of the prestigious Talle Family Merit Scholarship for Excellence in History and will finish his undergraduate degree in May 2017. He is grateful for his hands-on education and feels well prepared to meet the challenges that await him after graduating. He says, “I am so thankful for the support of our Africanists in the history department, who have challenged me and fostered my growth during my time at the U.” Tyler hopes to soon travel to Tanzania to work with communities there in person, and learn even more from their past and its influence on the present day.

This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.