Ross School - Senior Projects 2010

Student: Jake Sosne

Mentor: Mark Frankel


Title: Let Us Now Praise Humility


After three M-term trips to impoverished nations, my most recent exploration to Zanzibar presented not only fiscal issues associated with the region but more strikingly, problems with the education system which shocked and disturbed as I worked alongside students whose opportunities to receive wholesome educations were inhibited. My project is an attempt at revealing where these issues stem from and a search for answers as to how they should be addressed. Additionally, reflective pieces, modeled after the work of James Agee, aim to set the scene for a story that delves into issues that will alter the lives of members of my generation. Alongside ancillary images, which are intended to provide glimpses into the reality of the lives of others, my product is a personal reflection of my experiences and an attempt at piecing together answers to questions that have had a profound impact upon my regard of the privilege of education.



Images (see below)



PowerPoint Presentation


            Over the past three years, I have participated in international service trips to Guatemala, Mozambique, and Tanzania. I have built homes, taught students, sung with locals, and enjoyed the communal harvest, among countless other profound experiences. What I am most proud of, though, is not simply what I accomplished during my trips abroad but what I managed to learn and create at home.

            Upon returning from my third international service trip to Tanzania, I was inspired to continue expanding on my experiences. “How can I continue my learning?” I asked myself over and over. Presented with the opportunity to focus on a single topic of interest for the course of my designated senior project time, I felt that a project that would progress my knowledge of the education system in Zanzibar, which I had participated in, would be a fruitful and interesting project. Following a skewed set of ideas, ranging from creating a student group to building a website that would allow for international student interactions, I decided that a study of the education system in Zanzibar, and specifically the issues which affect it, was a field in which I could build a project that I would enjoy.

            Upon accepting my request to be mentor, Mr. Frankel introduced me to a book written by James Agee named Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The book is Agee’s attempt to recount and portray his experiences with tenant farmers during the Great Depression, and in doing so, he strove to portray reality as it exists and not as it is interpreted. This style inspired me: I decided that my project would be most effective as not only a research paper or memoir but as more of a literary collage.

            In practice, I modeled my writing and style after that of James Agee. While at first I had difficulty in finding information about the education system in Zanzibar, one of the greatest challenges I faced later was synthesizing the bulk of information provided by government documents and private organizations. Feeding from the South African Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ), the Vision 2020 Document, and my outside consultant, the research element of my project was key to the success of presenting the issues that plague the education system. However, in order to personalize my story, I faced a new challenge: writing in a personal voice, which captured both my memories and profound experiences.

            After months of writing and revisions, I was left with close to forty pages of compositions. The final challenge I was presented with was finding a way to present my writing. Again following in the footsteps of James Agee, I felt that it would be valuable to incorporate images into my composition, and in order to do so I would have my book printed. Utilizing Blurb and hours of meticulous formatting, I created a book which, I feel, captures both reality and my personal experiences in a way that is honest. Named Let Us Now Praise Humility, my project is my earnest attempt to present the truth and actuality of my experiences, and to do so in a way that credits the style of James Agee which affected my style greatly.

Works Cited

Agee, James and Walker Evans. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company Boston, 1939.

Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre. New York: Random House, 1985.

“Education spending (% of GDP) (most recent) by country.” Nationmaster: World Statistics, Country Comparisons. 2002. Viewed November 12, 2009.

Ganse, Alexander. “History of Zanzibar.” Sept. 25th, 2007. Last revised Feb. 6th, 2009. Viewed October 14th, 2009.

Gegenheimer, Anneliese. Telephone Interview. December 7, 2009.

Gegenheimer, Anneliese. “Revisions.” Email to Jake Sosne. December 15, 2009.

“History.” 2004. Viewed Oct. 3, 2009.

Jennings, John. “Student Research New York.” Email to Jake Sosne. October 6, 2009.

Rose, Liz. “Letters to Zanzibar.” Email to Jake Sosne. October 17, 2009.

Rose, Liz. “Package.” Email to Jake Sosne. October 14, 2009.

Lexow, Janne, Anders Wirak and Massoud Mohamed Salim. “Local Community Study.” Zanzibar Education Development Program (ZEDP) 2007-12. Zanzibar: 2007, PDF.

Mohammed, Kadija A. EFA 2000 Assessment Ministry of Education-Zanzibar: Final Report. World Education Forum. October, 1999. Viewed October 30, 2009.

Mwingira, M. “Student Research.” Email to Jake Sosne. December 7, 2009.

Nassor, Sebtuu Moh’d, Mwanaidi Saleh Abdalla, Massoud Mohamed Salim, and Omar Said. “Zanzibar Working Report.” The SACMEQ II Project in Zanzibar: A Study of the Conditions of Schooling and the Quality of Education. Harare, Zimbabwe: SACMEQ, 2005. Word Doc.

“Taking Shares of Africa.” The New York Times. June 18th, 1890.

Zanzibar. Gov. Zanzibar Vision 2020. Zanzibar: Tanzanian UR. PDF.

Zanzibar. Gov. Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (ZSGRP).
Zanzibar: Tanzania UR, 2007. PDF.

Community Member (Details)

Outside Consultant: Anneliese Gegenheimer

            Anneliese Gegenheimer accepted my request to be my outside consultant after my initial request went unanswered by another woman. Anneliese is a senior at the University of North Carolina and a participant in Students for Students International at UNC, which attempts to provide aid to girls’ educations in Zanzibar. Her experiences and knowledge of the education system in Zanzibar made her an appropriate and extremely helpful outside consultant.