Since 2010, Chocolate University has shepherded local-area high school students to remote southwestern Tanzania every other summer. These students are carefully selected through a competitive application process to participate in a 10-day immersion of entrepreneurship, craft chocolate and cacao agronomy, Tanzanian culture, Swahili language, leadership, reflection and more. Every other year, we accept applications from local high school students to engage in this unique opportunity, taking them from the campus of nearby Drury University to the lush cocoa bean farms in rural Tanzania. The cooperative program brings the students to the Askinosie Chocolate factory for immersion learning sessions, a crash course of direct trade methods, cacao agronomy, and Tanzanian culture.
Countless moments of priceless hands-on learning unfold as students make the 50+ hour journey to the Kyela region of Tanzania, one of Askinosie Chocolate’s cocoa bean sources. Students are introduced to Askinosie Chocolate farmer partners and their community. The students engage in the cultivation of direct trade relationships firsthand as they inspect cocoa beans and watch trade in its most transparent form, as financial statements and profit sharing reports are translated to the farmers in their own language.
Each year, the CU students collaborate with the Askinosie team to help the farmers execute a vision driven project for their village community. Past projects have included launching a Sustainable Lunch Program in partnership with Mwaya High School PTA and Convoy of Hope, installing a Khan Academy video-learning program, and building a deep water well in partnership with the Mwaya community. CU students have also facilitated discussions with the Empowered Girls and Enlightened Boys clubs at five Kyela-area middle and high schools, a program funded by CU that aims to increase the retention and graduation rate of female students. Recently, students also created and launched a Chekechea (Preschool) day camp program for the Mababu Village.
These short-term trips do more than inform local students about chocolate. They expose students to possibilities and opportunities for change within themselves, their own community and the greater world. CU helps bring the world to local students, who in turn, bring inspiration and possibilities to the world.