When Kizito Mayao arrived at Taylor from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), he fell in love with the unique culture the university had to offer.
“The most important thing is I could see students, staff, faculty, being like friends and staying in an environment that breaks that barrier between students and staff and faculty and this is in my country, the hardest thing that exists in [a] higher education environment,” Mayao said.
Coming from the DRC, he was shocked and amazed by the way that Taylor students can interact with one another and with their professors.
Mayao worked as a public relations officer at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) before being chosen by the university to come to Taylor.
“I was selected by the Lord’s grace to come to Taylor University and to be well equipped so that I can go back and help my university and my society and my country, Congo,” Mayao said.
He is currently in his second and final year of the Master’s of Higher Education (MAHE) program at Taylor and also serves as the graduate assistant of the world opportunities cabinet of Taylor World Outreach (TWO).
Mayao feels as though working with and being a source of joy to students is a calling that he has been given. He enjoys connecting with students, watching them grow and making them feel loved.
Being away from his wife, Dorcas and their two children, Noadia and Jedidia, has been extremely difficult for Mayao. He can feel lonely at times, but overall feels grateful for the Taylor community’s hospitality and kindness.
“[At Taylor,] I feel like I’m loved,” Mayao said. “I have friends, I have parents, I have sisters, I have brothers. Since I’ve been welcomed, this is like my second family.”
During his two years in Indiana, he had a revelation.
This revelation was inspired by three collaborative spaces on Taylor’s campus: TWO, TSO and the Jumping Bean.
He has watched students interact with their higher ups in these three spaces and this has inspired him and sparked a desire in him to create a similar space at UCBC.
The learning acquired through his MAHE classes also contributed to this revelation as he reflected and applied it to life at Taylor and world engagement.
“The objective was to break that wall, to break that barrier that exists between student and staff because in my country, you cannot talk easily like this with your teacher,” Mayao said. “That is what we call academic divide. Academic divide means my teacher is on the top and I’m very far [from the top]. I’m not allowed to collaborate with my teacher because he is a teacher.”
Mayao calls his idea, “Taylor Corner.”
UCBC has allotted him a space on their campus where this dream of his can become a reality.
“I would love to bring not just a building [to UCBC] but that culture, Taylor culture, and I'd love that space to reflect exactly Taylor,” Mayao said.
He wants this space to be a place where students and faculty can sit together, have coffee together, play ping pong together, etc.
He believes that implementing this dream with Taylor would be extremely beneficial — for both UCBC and for Taylor.
For Taylor, this (in part) means expanding the university’s reach further across cultural boundaries and increasing service-learning opportunities.
“We (the UCBC community) have something we can share with Taylor and Taylor can share with us,” Mayao said. “So we have a lot that we can build together. As we have been called to build God's kingdom, we can build that kingdom together with Taylor.”
He is hopeful that the Taylor community will contribute to and accept this project not as Mayao’s project, but as Taylor’s project. More importantly, he believes that this project is God’s project.
He has faith and hope that this project — this dream — will become a reality.
As his time as a Taylor student comes to a close, Mayao knows that this is not the end of his connection and relationship with the university.
Attending Taylor has been an incredible experience and blessing to him and he looks forward to displaying and sharing his learning with the people of the DRC.
“This project was a revelation from my classes, what I was learning from classes and how I can implement what I am learning from my classes and bring it to the community that can help people,” Mayao said.