Innovative Educational Opportunity Takes U.S. Students, Grads and Pros to East Africa for Comprehensive Study Tour and “Focus on Africa” Seminar

 The Co-operative University of Kenya (CUK) and The AFRICAN CONNECTIONS Research and Educational Fund, Inc. (ACREF) have today announced plans for a comprehensive two-week cross cultural, intergenerational summer study tour hosted on the CUK campus in the upscale Nairobi suburb of Karen.

The program runs from August 10 to August 25, 2023. Registration is limited – program fee discounts are available.

It is anticipated that participants will include U.S. and East Africa based undergraduates, graduate students, mid-career professionals and recent retirees – all sharing and learning from each other.

The one of a kind program offers exposure to leaders in Kenya’s public health, technology, transportation, energy, cultural and political sectors.

Program Summary:

When: August 10 to August 25, 2023

Where: The Co-operative Retreat and Conference Center at the Co-operative University of Kenya


Denis Kamau Muthoni – Senior Lecturer of Supply Chain Management, The Co-operative University of Kenya (CUK)

Melvin H. Cox – Lecturer, Merrill College, University of California, Santa Cruz(1) and Founder, The AFRICAN CONNECTIONS Research and Education Fund, Inc.

Program Design:

Roseanne Kinyua – EDU Africa

Tour Highlights:

• Nairobi National Park
• The David Sheeldrick Wildlife Trust – Elephant Orphanage
• The AFEW Giraffe Center
• Bomas of Kenya
• World Health Organization, Kenya
• The Aga Khan University Hospital
• 95th Annual Kenya Music Festival
• Kenya Ports Authority
• Bamburi Cement
• Mombasa Marine National Park
• Haller Park
• Fort Jesus Musuem
• Mombasa Old Town
• M-KOPA Solar
• Lake Naivasha
• Geothermal Development Company
• The Green Belt Movement

Guest Lectures:

• Public Health
• Media, Technology and Education
• Transportation and Tourism
• Energy
• Culture in Education – Dr. Emily Achieng’ Akuno, The Technical University of Kenya


ACREF Communications Team
+1 510 326-3522

Full Program Details are downloadable from:

Online Registration is available at:

Please Note: In Nairobi, the group will be housed at the Co-operative Retreat and Conference Center at CUK. Visits to several of Kenya’s most popular tourist destinations, including the Nairobi National Park, the port city of Mombasa and Lake Naivasha, are included in the itinerary.

A special highlight of the study tour will be a visit to the 95th Annual Kenya Music Festival, held this year at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in the Central Highlands town of Nyeri – 110 miles north of Nairobi. The Kenya Music Festival is an annual event that identifies and nurtures artistic talents in music, dance and elocution. Conducted under the auspices of the Kenya Ministry of Education, the festival provides opportunities for school pupils and college students to create and showcase artistic and cultural renditions at a national festival.

On August 24, the inaugural Focus on Africa Seminar will be held on the CUK Campus. The theme of the one-day conference is: “Where Do We Go From Here?: Africans and Americans in Tryin’ Times”.

A live feed from the seminar will be streamed worldwide and will herald the official launch of The AFRICAN CONNECTIONS Channel – powered by YouTube.

The study tour will include an orientation presented by EDU Africa, a basic Swahili language and intercultural competence workshop, a welcome dinner at The Carnivore (an internationally famous Nairobi eatery) and interactions with local families.

(1) This study tour is neither sponsored by nor affiliated with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

The AFRICAN CONNECTIONS Research and Education Fund, Inc.
Melvin Cox
+1 510 326-3522
Dr. Denis Muthoni



  • Tourism

Hong Kong – Innovative Music Making: MO x e-Orch concert to showcase musical achievements

Innovative Music Making: MO x e-Orch concert to showcase musical achievements


     The finale concert of the first Innovative Music Making: MO x e-Orch music training pilot scheme in the 2022/23 academic year will be held at 7.30pm on July 15 (Saturday) at the Auditorium of Kwai Tsing Theatre. The pilot scheme is organised by the Music Office of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, in collaboration with the Education University of Hong Kong. Various awards and certificates of attendance will be presented to the participating students at the concert, which is also one of the commemorative programmes in celebration of the Music Office transcending beyond its 45-year mark. 

     Four digital music orchestras (e-Orchs) formed by about 80 students participating in the first pilot scheme from the Ho Lap College (Sponsored by Sik Sik Yuen), Lingnan University Alumni Association (Hong Kong) Primary School, Tuen Mun Government Primary School and Wah Yan College, Hong Kong, will showcase their original collaborative multimedia works at the concert. They will also be joined by the Chinese and String Ensembles formed by the trainees from the Instrumental Music Training Scheme of the Music Office to perform music pieces written or arranged for e-Orchs and acoustic instruments. Musicians from the e-Orch@EdUHK Music Innovation and Design Lab will also be invited to present their original collaborative works at the concert, bringing a brand new and extraordinary musical experience to the audience.

     Highlights include world premieres of local composers Leung Chi-hin’s “Toward the Unreachable Galaxy” and Au Tin-yung’s “Deconvolution”, which are commissioned by the Music Office with sponsorship from the CASH Music Fund, and Lau Hiu-lam’s arrangements of Tchaikovsky’s “Waltz from The Sleeping Beauty” and Yan Laolie’s “Thunder in a Drought”.

     To promote the integration of music and technology, the Music Office launched the first Innovative Music Making: MO x e-Orch music training pilot scheme in 2022 for students of participating primary and secondary schools to form e-Orchs and learn musical knowledge and music creation with the use of tablets.

     Tickets priced at $60 are now available at URBTIX ( For telephone bookings, please call 3166 1288. For programme enquiries and concessionary schemes, please call 2158 6467 or 3842 7776 or visit

Hong Kong – Innovative performance from Hong Kong artist showcased in London (with photos)

Innovative performance from Hong Kong artist showcased in London (with photos)


     The Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, London (London ETO) supported the performance of a Hong Kong born dancer and circus performer, Hazel Lam, staged at Jacksons Lane in London on March 8 (London time).
     The performance, titled “Lighthouse”, is a 50-minute expressionist dance and circus performance inspired by Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. Hazel Lam used PVC plastic tubes as props and aerial apparatus in the performance. She aims to highlight the power in gentleness and feminine movement qualities, as well as invite the audience to reflect their role in a world that is overflowing with plastic.
     The Director-General of the London ETO, Mr Gilford Law, greeted the audience before the performance. Mr Law remarked, “It is our great pleasure to support Hazel’s performance in London tonight, and also her upcoming performance in May at the Enable US Festival in Sheffield. Hazel’s performance tour in the United Kingdom (UK) showcases the vibrant cultural and creative scene of Hong Kong. The National 14th Five-Year Plan expresses clear support for Hong Kong to develop into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange, in full recognition of the flourishing and diverse growth of arts, culture and creative sectors in Hong Kong. With the passion of the creative practitioners, we are confident that Hong Kong will continue to thrive as a cultural hub.”
     Mr Law also introduced the “Hello Hong Kong” Campaign. “Hong Kong is back on the international stage, and is ready to receive guests from all over the world. We will be hosting more than 250 arts, cultural, business and sports events and festivals throughout 2023. In the next few months, outdoor events like the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament and the 100-kilometre Trailwalker; as well as arts and cultural delights like Art Basel Hong Kong, Museum Summit and Hong Kong Arts Festival will be held in the city. We can’t wait to say hello in person to each and every one of you in Hong Kong,” he added. 
     Hazel Lam’s three-month UK tour started in Cambridge in February, to be followed by Bristol and London in March, and the final stop at the Sheffield Enable US Festival in May. 

Innovative Discount App Launches To Support Struggling Retailers And Increase Footfall

The Shoppers Discount Club aims to provide a solution to the decrease in customers, and profits, by providing a way for retailers to compete with online offers and discounts in real time!

BIRMINGHAM, U.K.Jan. 2, 2023PRLog — Following the Covid-19 pandemic, brick and mortar retailers have struggled to revert to the levels of footfall, and profits, they saw pre-pandemic. With high streets seeing an increase in store closures, the industry is facing a major problem. Designed and Launched in  2022,  the app will leverage popular QR code technology and chat bots to help struggling retailers provide live, in-person discounts.

The idea, born out of the covid-19 pandemic, is designed to support stores competing against large online retailers. After a significant period of closures during lockdowns, with many customers opting for online retailers to meet their needs, retailers have struggled to incentivise those shoppers back in-store.

The app provides bespoke, QR codes and POS material for shoppers to display in their store fronts. These QR codes host live discounts which shoppers can redeem in-store and are fully-customisable to retailers, allowing them to discount certain products to yield increased profits.

By utilising QR code technology, Shoppers Discount Club is leveraging the tool which became popular during the pandemic, used by thousands of bars and restaurants to facilitate contactless payments.

Diane Shawe, founder of Shoppers Discount Club said: ‘The pandemic was a tough time for so many retailers, with less footfall on the high street and long period of closures. Inspired by the use of QR code technology in the hospitality sector, we set out to deliver a benefit to retailers using the same technology people had become so accustomed to. I’m delighted to bring my background in technology and retail together to be able to offer retailers something which will truly make a difference and provide the much needed solution stores need to increase footfall again.”

As well as increasing footfall and sales for their business, retailers are also able to take advantage of the app to avoid costly advertising spend on point of sale merchandising, in store displays or flyers to promote their offers. By signing up to the app, users will get a uniquely designed A3 poster to display in their window, which features their QR code. Offers behind the QR code can be updated at any time to stay relevant and discount different products, without the need to update the advertising material, ultimately saving them on advertising spend.

Not only can retailers utilise the app to make fully customisable offers, users can also benefit from chat bot technology. Instant responses from chat bots are a much quicker, less resource intensive way for retailers to respond to customer enquiries and reduce long wait times for responses via telephone, social media or email. The technology will also free up retailers’ time to focus on other crucial tasks and increase overall efficiency of their business.

Additional benefits for retailers include the ability to personalise discounts to different target audiences including pensioners, students, traders, local residents or government workers, making offers as targeted and relevant as possible. Retailers also keep 100% of their profits, compared to other online discount offerings.

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Innovative Model Eases Healthcare Employers’ Struggle to Hire Nurse Aides

 HomeChoice Healthcare just added three new Certified Nurse Aides (CNA’s) to their agency with the help of SembraSchool, a new CNA training program that partners with local healthcare employers to up-skill current caregivers into CNA’s in as little as three weeks.

“We are very excited to have our first graduates,” says Matthew Brown, Human Resource Director for HomeChoice Healthcare Group. “Offering our best PCA’s a career ladder that allows them to get certified as CNAs (NA1s) and increase their income has definitely improved retention. And, offering new hires the opportunity to get certified has greatly improved our recruitment efforts.”

Hiring and retaining professional caregivers has been a challenge for years—and the pandemic has only exacerbated this long-standing crisis.

Schaefer O’Neill, President of SembraCare and its related entities including SembraSchool, has been a long-term investor and builder within the home care industry for more than 20 years. Schaefer recalls, “I talked to home care owners nearly every day and the conversations just kept circling back to the same problem, recruiting and retaining professional Nurse Aides. I knew I needed to come up with a progressive plan of action.”

The SembraSchool Nurse Aide Training Program was officially approved by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in November 2021. But, SembraSchool is not like other nurse aide training programs in the area. SembraSchool’s mission is to work directly with healthcare employers to provide students the opportunity to attend the program with tuition assistance and guaranteed job placement. Many of the students are also able to work with their sponsoring agency while attending the program.

“The response has been overwhelming,” reports Kathyrn Bunn, COO, and Director of SembraSchool. “Many of our partners are so eager to get new CNAs on their team, they are footing the entire bill for the tuition in exchange for a commitment to work for a specific period of time.”

Another option for agencies that can’t afford to absorb the cost of tuition is for the employer to pay the tuition upfront and have the student pay it back in small increments out of each paycheck with a commitment to work until the loan is paid off.

SembraSchool offers convenient 3 and 6-week programs that fast-track students toward obtaining their CNA certification quickly—allowing them to get into the community to care for clients ASAP.

· 3 Week Accelerated Program: The 3-week course is an accelerated program ideal for students already working in the health care field. Classes run from 8 am to 5 pm Monday thru Friday.

· 6 Week Program: The 6-week course is designed with the working student in mind. Classes are just 4 hours a day, with afternoon and evening options available.

About SembraSchool CNA-I Training Program:

SembraSchool offers a Nurse Aide I training program for adult students. This program provides entry-level students with the skills and knowledge required to provide resident care under the general supervision of a registered nurse and to successfully meet the competency requirements for listing on the North Carolina Nurse Aide I Registry. SembraSchool’s mission is to increase the number of Nurse Aide I trained health care professionals in the health care workforce across the state of North Carolina to keep the aging population healthy and safe. For more information on SembraSchool, contact (919) 704-7690,, or visit

About HomeChoice Healthcare:

HomeChoice Healthcare is a multi-region Group of Providers serving In-Home Care Recipients. The HomeChoice Group is committed to caring for the aging population in North Carolina. Originally founded in 2005, HomeChoice’s mission is based upon the growing need for home care providers whose utmost concern is providing great healthcare. HomeChoice understands that its employees make the company a success. Their employees are compensated higher than the industry average because they believe it helps keep turnover low, allowing a bond to form between Caregivers and their Recipients. For more information on HomeChoice, contact (919) 897-8500,, or visit


Stacey Tavarez




  • Healthcare Management