John Mbanda

The greenery, the short walk to a state park, combined with how the community greeted me, I quickly felt that I belonged here.

Degree and Class Year

BA ’25

Hometown

Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Rwanda

Major

International Affairs

Minor

French Studies

Extracurriculars

President, Afrikan Diaspora Club; Chair, 62nd International Affairs Symposium; LC Soccer Club; Videographer, Office of Communications; Committee member, Amb. Edward J. Perkins Distinguished Speaker Series

Overseas study

London, England (Fall 2022)

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Beautiful, Rigorous, Community-Oriented

What’s your favorite class? Why?

Any classes with Professor Bob Mandel because he is able to teach in a way that feels genuine, and as a student, you get the feeling that he cares you understand the full picture of things. I’ve had the pleasure of taking Mandel’s Global Resources Dilemmas and Global Security, both of which are discussion-oriented and cover very much contemporary global topics.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I visited the spring I got accepted and immediately fell in love with campus. The greenery, the short walk to a state park, combined with how the community greeted me, I quickly felt that I belonged here. Also, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and did exactly so by choosing a college that is nearly 2,000 miles away from my hometown.

What do you like or find most interesting about your major?

International affairs/relations, to me, is a school of thought that teaches students how to identify issues ramping up our globe, figure out the root causes, and most importantly find viable solutions to that problem. In a world that is increasingly in need of diplomats and global citizens more than ever, this field of study has perhaps never been more important. The thing that I find most interesting about the International Affairs Department here at Lewis & Clark is the level of care that professors show you subsequently and the lengths these educators and staff are willing to go for each student. Our small class sizes allow each student to form a personal relationship with professors. To me, that is extremely valuable!

Tell us about your support systems and social outlets on campus: people, activities, clubs, res halls, etc.

Since my freshman year, soccer has served as both a stress relief outlet and a means of fostering community. At Lewis & Clark, we provide opportunities for involvement through our Division 3 Soccer Teams for both men and women. Additionally, we offer a soccer club that maintains a lower commitment level while still providing a competitive and enjoyable experience.

What advice do you have for incoming students?

Choose Lewis & Clark!

Have you been involved with one of our symposia, as an organizer or participant? What was the experience like? How did the event complement your academic experience?

This year, I have the distinct privilege of serving as the cochair for the 62nd annual International Affairs Symposium, and it is truly an honor to lead an exceptional committee of students. Being entrusted with the responsibility to bring in influential speakers on topics our community deeply cares about is both a challenge and a rewarding experience. My initial involvement with the symposium began during my freshman year, when I served as a host. This role allowed me to engage directly with speakers, acting as a student ambassador for my college. The connections I forged with these influential individuals, who held key positions across various sectors, inspired me to pursue a more involved role in organizing this prestigious event. Now, as the chair, I am excited to contribute to the symposium’s success and continue fostering meaningful conversations within our community and encouraging learning in the form of debate.

If you have studied or will study overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience?

Fall of 2022, I crossed the pond and went to study abroad in Europe. We were mainly stationed in London, England’s capital and one of the world’s megacities, although we did spend a month in the Scottish highlands and I went on personal trips across France, Germany, and Switzerland. I absolutely loved being immersed in the cultural melting pot that is London. I didn’t enjoy traditional English food, however. While visiting Paris, I stayed in one of its African immigrant-concentrated neighborhoods, or arrondissement as they call them. It was great. It felt like I was in a West African market, except I was not—I was in Europe. London has a rich diverse population of not only Africans, but to an even greater extent Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi communities. This was unlike anything I had experienced in my life. I think it’s fair to say that this experience was crucial to my personal development and for that, I thank Lewis & Clark College!

How would you describe sustainability at Lewis & Clark? What’s your involvement with any sustainability initiatives on campus?

As a student leader, sustainability to me involves managing activities in a way that ensures continuity, positive impact, community-building, and responsible resource use. As the President of the Afrikan Diaspora Club (ADC), I’ve been tasked with spearheading the initiative of better-integrating our community members with domestic and international Lewis & Clark students. We do this primarily by collaborating with various clubs and organizations. While that is our main focus, by extension we are driven to shed positive light on the continent and her diaspora world. But at the heart of all of it is sustainability. The Executive Board of ADC is subconsciously always thinking about how our community impacts can transcend the time that any of us are here at Lewis & Clark College.

International Affairs