Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola Panel Discussion

Dr. Joseph Sankoh, Dr. Gale Burstein, and Mr. Anthony Saysay discuss Ebola on Oct. 20

A large crowd of around a hundred people was in attendance Monday night for the second event of the new History & Politics events series, a panel discussion of the Ebola crisis currently ravaging the West African countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. The event was organized by Dr. Joseph Sankoh, associate professor of Political Science, who is a specialist on African politics and coordinates the department's Refugee Studies minor. Dr. Sankoh chaired the panel and discussed the history and culture of West Africa. The two other panelists were Dr. Gale Burstein (Erie County Commissioner of Public Health) and Mr. Anthony Saysay, a native of Liberia who came to the U.S. seven years ago as a refugee.

The panel discussion emphasized the impact of the crisis has had upon West Africa, where over 9,000 people have contracted Ebola and where over 4,500 have died. While much of the press coverage of the Ebola outbreak in the United States has focused on the United States, there has been relatively little discussion of conditions in Africa or the impact that Ebola is having in Africa. This event offered a corrective to that perspective, keeping the focus on conditions in West Africa. Saysay spoke about trauma and devastation caused by civil war in Liberia, asking "Who is coming to help?" and asking those present to pray for Africa and for the victims and survivors of the Ebola epidemic. Sankoh emphasized such issues as the legacy of colonialism on the region's country, as well as the prevalence of poverty, the lack of basic health and transportation infrastructure, and discussed cultural practices that have helped to spread disease. Burstein traced the disease's trajectory, highlighting the ways that Ebola is transferred and identifying stages of infection and transmission.

Dr. Sankoh (photo from

The panel discussion attracted attention from several local media outlets. Read/listen to news coverage from WBFO radio (linked HERE), and Time-Warner cable news (linked HERE).

Asked how to help provide relief for the victims of Ebola, both Sankoh and Burstein recommended work of Buffalo's Jericho Road Community Health Center, under the leadership of Dr. Marion Glick: Daemen's African Student Association is also raising funds for Ebola relief during this week's Ebola Awareness Week; contact ASA president Maryan Jumale (maryan.jumale @ for more information.

Read more about the panelists at our earlier blog post, linked HERE. The event was sponsored by the History & Political Science Department, with co-sponsorship from the African Student Association, the Office of the President, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement, the Division of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Health and Human Services, the Health Care Studies Department, the Paralegal Studies Program, and the Public Health Department. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ebola Crisis in West Africa

History & Politics Speaker Series: Panel Discussion on Ebola

On Monday, October 20, our History & Politics Speaker Series continues with a panel discussion of the Ebola epidemic that is currently overwhelming the West African countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.The event will be take place from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm in the Alumni Lounge in Wick Center on the Daemen College campus (located at 4380 Main Street, Amherst). Discussants will address different dimensions of the Ebola crisis, including governmental responses, cultural issues, and epidemiology, together with the perspective of people from the affected areas.

 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Outbreak Distribution Map [Oct. 2014]

Discussants on the panel include:

  • Dr. Joseph Sahr Sankoh, Associate Professor of Political Science, will chair the panel and will address political, economic, and cultural dimensions of the Ebola crisis. Dr. Sankoh is a native of Sierra Leone and a specialist in African politics and global policy issues.
  • Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Public Health, will provide a public health perspective on the Ebola epidemic.
  • Julia Hall, a human rights attorney with expertise in international law, will discuss the legal and global implications of the Ebola epidemic. 
  • Mr. Anthony Saysay, a native of Liberia, will discuss the impact of Ebola on his family, the people of Liberia, and his native country. 

This event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the History & Political Science Department. Co-sponsors include the Office of the President, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Center for Sustainable Communities and Civic Engagement, the Division of Arts and Sciences, the Division of Health and Human Services, the Health Care Studies Department, the Paralegal Studies Program, and the Public Health Department. The African Student Association, which is providing refreshments for the event, is also a co-sponsor. For more information, please contact Dr. Sankoh at

Please note that the African Student Association will be holding a fundraising event to be used for relief in the Ebola crisis on Thursday, October 23, from 12:00-3:00 in the Wick Student Center.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What I Did Last Summer, Guest Blog by Tyler Vanice

Tyler Vanice is a History major (class of ’15) and Public History minor. In this guest blog post, he writes about his summer job working in public history.  His job built upon his 2013 internship with the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Learn more about Daemen's many internship opportunities here


Tyler Vanice

ByTyler Vanice:

Last year I was accepted into the Washington Internship Institute and interned at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, VA. This spring, the Curator and Executive Director of the Memorial called me and offered me a job since they had liked my work as an intern. I couldn’t hold my excitement when I heard the news. I told them that I still have another year of school as I interned a year earlier than most people (in my sophomore year) but they were happy I was willing to work at least for the summer.

Some of my work this summer was tedious – like the weeks-long project of digitizing records from one Masonic Lodge. It was a long process that included chopping off the spines of the books, then feeding the pages into a machine, and waiting for the machine to complete its optical character recognition (OCR). This process was not difficult, but it was time-consuming. I learned the hard way to always make sure that the computer settings were correct when I had to rescan 120 books after I did not notice that the settings had changed. 

When I had finally finished digitizing, I was finally able to do the work I enjoyed the most, which was cataloging and inventorying the Memorials collection. The museum had received a large collection containing thousands of items from the Masonic Service Association (MSA). This included correspondence and various records dating back to the early 1920’s. These records were rescued from destruction; the MSA was clearing space to make room for new management and the records were being discarded before the Curator of the Memorial intervened. There was so many items that we didn’t know what to do with them so we left the project for another time. I was able to do a basic inventory before we quit. 
Artifacts awaiting processing

For the last month of my stay I was asked to sort and organize the file room for the Memorial since it had become a mess. I did not know what I got myself into when I agreed to take the task; it took me weeks to complete. I finished just in time for a researcher to use the room. 

I never realized how tiresome it is to work in a museum! I was told that when working in a museum, a person wears many hats and I found that out the hard way! I had enjoyed my experience down in D.C. just as much as I did the year before. I always enjoyed working with artifacts and being able to “play” with history. It was exciting to work alongside the Curator of the Memorial in all the projects that needed to be done.

D.C. is a marvelous place to be and I recommend everyone who has never visited should do so. For a person who enjoys working in museums, I sure had found the right place! The area offers a lot of history and places to visit; from the National Mall to George Washington’s tomb, D.C. offers a little bit of everything to everyone.

From researching, to cleaning, to stripping wax off the floors, I accomplished a lot over the summer. After working hard all summer and walking up the hill for work in the 90+ degree weather every day, I can say I had fun and enjoyed my experience as much as my first time I went down.  And in the end, it was worth all the work because I heard the magic words that everyone wants to hear; “I’d like to have you back next year.” 

It is a great relief to know that after I graduate from Daemen, that I will have a job waiting for me. D.C. offers a lot of different opportunities and I have the Washington Internship Institute to thank for giving me the chance to leave Buffalo and experience a new world.

Photos courtesy of Tyler Vanice

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Today our blog reached the milestone of



Thank you for visiting our blog and helping make news for the History & Political Science Department since June 2013.