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Exploring international children’s rights in Tanzania

by Sarah Bello,

Professors Cook and Buske with NGO representative

Professor Buske, College of Law faculty, is teaching an International Children's Rights course during the Summer 2023 intersession. Along with Professor Cook, she will take 12 students across the globe to Africa for a new perspective. 

While there for three weeks, students will have class sessions each morning and will spend the afternoons doing site visits. They will go to orphanages, a pediatrics unit in a hospital, local schools, different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with women's and children's rights, a juvenile jail, a Maasai girls' school, and more. 

If that's not enough, they plan to shadow local law students, host them for dinner, and hold a moot court. Each Willamette Law student must also complete a community service project and an independent research paper. 

"It's going to be a very full experience," Cook says. 

As a distinguished professor from practice in Trusts and Estates, she described her role as more of a "teacher's assistant" to Buske. She is a co-chaperone on the trip, going to explore related opportunities with the intestate process and widows' inheritance rights. 

Buske has a background in child welfare and previously taught at a law school in Tanzania. She has traveled with students to many places and hopes that on this trip, the group gains an understanding of children's rights from an international context. 

"For example, children as young as four or five are often seen out in the middle of nowhere in charge of the family's goats. That seems strange to most Americans, but is entirely normal in a Tanzanian context. I want students to grapple with things like that — to consider child welfare in a new and unfamiliar context. I also really deeply enjoy building relationships with students outside the classroom where they have to, perhaps, reconsider their own values and assumptions." 

Days will be varied, with lots of time spent driving and holding intense conversations, Buske explains. During most trips, she's seen students have moments where they have to reevaluate their entire worldview. 

"I like that a lot. I consider that a good thing," Buske says. "They have to dig deep and think about who they want to be as lawyers. I love that." 

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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