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2009 News Releases

Longwood alumnus to speak at Convocation

August 21, 2009

Yared Fubusa Yared Fubusa

UPDATE (9.4.09): Due to extenuating circumstances, Yared Fubusa will not be speaking at Convocation as originally announced. However, Mr. Fubusa will be speaking at Longwood's sustainability conference scheduled for March 2010.

Yared Fubusa, a Longwood University graduate who is the founder and executive director of the Gombe School of Environment and Society (GOSESO) in his native Tanzania, will be the speaker for convocation Thursday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m. in Jarman Auditorium.

Fubusa, who earned a B.S. in economics at Longwood in 2000, is an internationally recognized social entrepreneur and former research assistant to the world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, whom he helped bring to Longwood in 1999. He has a master's degree from the University of Utah, taught at the University of Virginia in 2003-04, and currently is a final-year doctoral student in Utah State University's Department of Environment and Society.

Fubusa launched GOSESO shortly after beginning his studies at Utah State in 2004. The school, located in the Kitobe Forest within walking distance of Lake Tanganyika and Gombe Stream National Park, fosters environmental stewardship, economic vitality, and human dignity. It opened recently with an inaugural class of 20 students, all from neighboring villages, and four teachers. It is expected to grow by 2011 to 200 students and 15 teachers and by 2015 to its maximum capacity of 500 students.

Fubusa was born and grew up in a village on the shoreline of Lake Tanganyika near Gombe Stream National Park in western Tanzania. In the mid-1990s he became a research assistant of Goodall, who since 1960 has studied the chimpanzee population at Gombe Stream National Park. He was the youngest research assistant at Dr. Goodall's Gombe Stream Research Centre and a founding member and spokesman for her international program for young people, Roots and Shoots, for which he launched outreach programs for the Jane Goodall Institute in Tanzania and around the world.

The people near Gombe Stream National Park are "one of the poorest and most disenfranchised people in Tanzania," according to the GOSESO web site. "Unheard and unseen by the outside world, hundreds of thousands of local people eke out an existence based on unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and poor farming systems. The wildlife, notably the chimpanzee population, in declining in tandem with degradation of neighboring forests and rural livelihoods."

While working at the Gombe Stream Research Centre in 1995, Fubusa hosted a group of seven students and their chaperones from Prince Edward County High School, who called themselves the African Primates Environmental Study (APES) group. As their gift to Tanzania, the APES group facilitated Fubusa's admission to Longwood and raised money for his airfare to Virginia.

"When I was 12 years old," he told Longwood magazine when he was a Longwood student, "I dreamed of going to school overseas. My brothers thought I was crazed. Nine years later I'm living my dream."

In fall 2008 Fubusa was elected an Ashoka Fellow by the Ashoka Foundation, an Arlington, Va.-based organization that describes itself as the world's large community of leading social entrepreneurs. As an Ashoka Fellow, he received a three-year fellowship that supports his work as GOSESO's director and chief fundraiser. He has been a keynote speaker at educational institutions and conferences in 45 states.