June 15, 2020
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Opportunities to study and work abroad helped Reagan Tsimakoko ’15, an international studies major from Botswana, pursue his interest in exploring the burgeoning economic and business relationship between China and Africa.
His experience crested the summer before his senior year in Nairobi, Kenya, where he worked as a business development intern for the Sino Africa Centre of Excellence Foundation (SACEF) promoting investment, trade and entrepreneurship between China and Africa. “I learned how to build cross-cultural coalitions between Kenyan and Chinese businesses and the local government community so they could communicate better and exchange ideas,” said Tsimakoko, who has a concentration in sub-Saharan Africa and a minor in Chinese Mandarin.
A junior year abroad led to the internship in Kenya. He spent the fall semester in Shanghai, participating in an intensive language program and an internship with Panjiva, an American online resource company that facilitates international trade. That was followed by a semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
“Kenyon gives students so many opportunities to study abroad and experience other cultures that I thought the best way to study the relationship between China and Africa was to split my time between the two,” Tsimakoko said. “Kenyon allowed me to be bold and take on new challenges. The nature of a Kenyon education is interdisciplinary, and it was the intersection of my classes in economics, politics, anthropology, history and language that initiated my interest in Sino-Africa relations.”
In addition to his internships, Tsimakoko gained valuable business experience in Gambier as a founder and manager of Nite Bites, the student-owned food-service operation in Peirce Pub. The Entrepreneurship Club launched Nite Bites in November 2011 to provide students with a late-night dining option.
After graduation, Tsimakoko began work with the Gemological Institute of America in New York City. He hopes to become involved in the mineral beneficiation movement that allows for a larger proportion of the value of precious stones to remain in their countries of origin and contribute to development. “Botswana is at the forefront of this beneficiation idea and I think it is fascinating,” he said.