Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



The Kochia Chronicles: A Cautionary Message to Students With Good Intentions

I once had a friend who proudly announced that she wanted to go to Africa to “do service.” My friends and I laughed at her ambiguity; she wanted to go to an entire continent with some vague idea of what it would mean to help. We failed, however, to see how beautiful that notion was. Somewhere along the line she’d come to know that there was a nation struggling, and she felt compelled by some sort of goodness inside of her to help these complete strangers.

Khanjan Mehta, the Founding Director of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) Program, seeks to harness and guide this exact inherent goodness in his novel The Kochia Chronicles. Mehta believes our generation’s compulsion to help could be a wonderful thing if properly executed. “Passion and good intentions are not enough,” he insists. The Kochia Chronicles serve as almost a guide for how to properly instill change.

Many of us have a basic understanding of problems facing Africa, and we’ve done our part to help. We’ve purchased our Tom’s Shoes. We searched for, but never found, Kony in 2012. But we don’t know to what extent we are hurting or helping. The Kochia Chronicles are a set of nine short stories that take our understanding to a new level. Originally, Mehta wrote these tales for his students to read in place of pouring over textbooks with abstract concepts. The Chronicles allowed him to personalize his teachings.

The result was a series of compelling short stories following Janet, Obongo, Okello, and a few others. Soon enough you start to understand the culture of the small town of Kochia (located in Western Kenya) because you see it through their lives. When Obongo wants to spend all of his money on a three month funeral for his father, you want to beg him not to but you understand why it’s important. When Janet doesn’t want to visit her dying sister because she must attend the AIDS clinic, you see the sacrifice she has to make.

Mehta emphasizes that positive changes in East Africa cannot be achieved without respect for and integration of this African culture. Africa is a society hungry for technological innovation so long as their norms are properly incorporated. It’s a novel that I sincerely recommend to anybody with an interest in shaping the world. The Kochia Chronicles show that anybody can help — whether you’re a business major or pre-med.

Be sure to hit up Amazon and get yourself a copy.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Follow on Another Platform
Other posts by Sarah

DIY Halloween Costumes

Halloween is arguably the greatest weekend here at Penn State–costume parties and candy, what could be better? Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive. If you want to do Halloween properly, you have to have at least three clever costumes, because repeating is lame, and not dressing up is even lamer. Pre-made Halloween costumes happen to be incredibly expensive, and pretty much super boring. So, your options are pretty limited. Your best bet is scouring thrift shops and your own closet to DIY your own perfect costumes. Here are a few options that we came up with.

Freshmen 101: How to Stay Healthy at Penn State

Basic Pumpkin Items in State College

No. 2 Penn State Men’s Hockey Cruises Past No. 3 Michigan Tech 8-0 In NCAA Regionals

Eight different Nittany Lions scored a goal, while Liam Souliere posted a 24-save shutout in Allentown.

No. 2 Penn State Men’s Hockey Cruises Past No. 3 Michigan Tech 8-0 In NCAA Regionals

Eight different Nittany Lions scored a goal, while Liam Souliere posted a 24-save shutout in Allentown.

Notre Dame Hires Micah Shrewsberry As Next Head Coach

After nearly a week of rumored reports regarding Shrewsberry’s departure, Notre Dame officially announced the hiring Friday morning.

Family Environment Helps Urban Dance Troupe Bring Passion To The Stage

“Aside from being a hip-hop dance team here that is diverse in its members, its style of dance, and the skills that we have, we’re also a very close-knit group of people.”