Hamline News

Marily Knieriemen

Abroad Perspective

Alumna gives students opportunity to study in Africa

Interview by Tom Brandes Mals '93


Since graduating from Hamline, Marily Knieriemen ‘76 has lived in nine African countries and visited 20 others.

She first developed a love for the continent as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Cameroon from 1977 to 1979. Her experiences in Africa over the years proved so life-changing that she established an endowment to give Hamline students an opportunity to study in Africa

Now country director of a Dutch nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Niamey, Niger, Knieriemen shared about her life and work in Africa.

What struck you most about your experience in Africa?
Cameroon is sometimes called “a microcosm of Africa” because there’s so much variety within its borders—in ethnic groups, languages, geography, climate, and religion. It was a great place to start to discover Africa.

Tell me about the kinds of work you’ve done throughout your career.
Currently I’m the country director for SNV Niger. I’ve worked for three other NGOs and the Peace Corps as country director. The programs I’ve worked on have varied—health, agriculture, village water supply, literacy, savings and credit, ect. I’ve found there is a lot of need but also ways to really make a difference in people’s lives

What impact do you think you’ve had?
It’s given me the opportunity to contribute to make positive change in people’s lives. It’s meant seeing a lot of need and being able to work towards addressing it while getting to know and working with a lot of wonderful people.

How does living abroad change a person?
It’s so important to have an understanding of the world beyond where you grew up. It gives a much broader perspective to the way you see the world and other people and a better appreciation of their joys and challenges.

What led you to create an endowment to help Hamline students study in Africa?
I made a small investment in stocks in the ‘80s, and the value grew over time. I decided I wanted to do something significant with the appreciated stock, and I’m happy to help make it possible for Hamline student to gain a new appreciation of the world through a study experience in Africa.

To learn how you can create an endowed scholarship to support current and future Pipers, contact Marcia Yanz at 651-523-2336 or myanz01@hamline.edu.