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Sudan invites sociology prof Amal Madibbo to participate in knowledge transfer

International conference addresses how Sudanese diaspora can help homeland achieve development goals

Amal Madibbo (right), associate professor in the Department of Sociology, attended the Knowledge Transfer Conference in Sudan last December.

By Heath McCoy 
February 24, 2016

Ever since she came to Calgary in 2007 Amal Madibbo, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, has returned to her native Sudan annually to provide aid to the developing country.

She has volunteered with schools in war-torn Darfur, taught in refugee camps, and helped train future researchers at the African country’s universities, among her many acts of service. She’s also worked with Calgary’s Sudanese-Canadian community, to help them better integrate into our society.

Until now, Madibbo always undertook these projects on her own dime, making the colossal effort because she was passionate about helping her homeland. Recently, however, that changed and Madibbo was heartened to be a part of the Government of Sudan’s new initiative, which encourages Sudanese immigrants to better contribute to the development of their native country.

Last December Madibbo was invited to participate in the inaugural Knowledge Transfer Conference, organized by the Government of Sudan and the International Organization for Migration, which was attended by Sudanese immigrants from 28 countries. Madibbo, who last year edited the book Canada in Sudan, Sudan in Canada: Immigration, Conflict and Reconstruction, was invited as the one Canadian academic at the conference. 

“This was an important event, because there are so many Sudanese immigrants in other countries, already helping their families and friends, and maybe small businesses back home,” says Madibbo. “But to better contribute, we need to institutionalize that. We need curriculum building. We need better educational and economic investments, investments in hospitals, better political contributions and business contributions.”

Arising from the conference, Sudan has now implemented a Knowledge Transfer Program, says Madibbo, whereby Sudanese immigrants return home for a period of three weeks to six months to act as volunteers in their various fields of expertise.

“I train university students,” says Madibbo. “And I collect books that the University of Calgary has donated, passing them along to Sudanese universities.”

As well as providing aid in Sudan, Madibbo is also focused on enhancing relationships between her birth country and Canada. “I’m hoping to build a partnership between the University of Calgary – with our Eyes High interest in internationalization – and the Sudanese universities,” she says.

She adds: “I’ve been doing this work since I came to Canada, but now I can make much more progress with the Government of Sudan formally sponsoring it.”

In these times of global migration, Madibbo feels that the Knowledge Transfer Program is crucial.  “This is why the International Organization of Migration supports this,” she says. “Migration to the developed world is important, but it also must be beneficial to the developing world. And it can be through us, through the immigrants.”