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Seattle University School of Law Student Brings Street Law to Zambia

Street Law, Inc.

Over 40 years of educating about law, democracy, and human rights

Seattle University School of Law Student Brings Street Law to Zambia

Nathan Nanfelt teaches a lesson to middle-school youths at the Jubilee Centre's community school.

As an undergraduate at Wheaton College, Nathan Nanfelt spent six months living in Zambia as part of a unique study abroad program that trains students to develop and implement community improvement projects. His experience there influenced his decision to go to law school. “When I was working there I found myself frustrated with Zambia’s aid policies,” said Nathan. “I asked myself ‘who is making these policies?’ It turned out that most of them were being made by lawyers, and so I thought ‘oh, I could do that.’”

Upon enrolling at Seattle University of Law, Nathan found that he didn’t have to wait until he was a lawyer to share his legal education with the community. That opportunity presented itself when he signed up for the law school’s Street Law program and met Professor Margaret Fisher—program director and former Street Law, Inc. staffer. Professor Fisher played an instrumental role in the development of Street Law programs in South Africa and Lesotho in the 1980s. Seeing an opportunity to empower Zambians through education about the law, Nathan approached Professor Fisher to discuss how he might bring a Street Law pilot project to Zambia. 

Professor Fisher encouraged Nathan to connect with Street Law, Inc.’s executive director emeritus, Ed O’Brien, who was able to provide guidance to Nathan on how structure a Street Law program in Zambia and develop lesson plans that utilized Street Law’s interactive, student-centered methods.

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Pius Chisa of IJM co-taught with Nathan.

A key ingredient in Street Law’s international programs is a relationship with an in-country partner to ensure that local customs are respected, unique needs are addressed, and community buy-in is present. Nathan’s Zambian friends put him in touch with Pamela Mumbi, an attorney from the Zambia Chapter of the International Justice Mission (IJM). Ms. Mumbi helped Nathan determine his teaching topics based on the country’s most urgent law-related issues: introduction to the legal structure in Zambia, human rights, land rights, how to draft a will, and what to do when one is arrested.

To implement his lesson plans, Nathan worked with Laurence Temfwe of the Jubilee Centre in Ndola, Zambia, which operates oversees a wide range of humanitarian and education programs, including a community school. Nathan spent two days teaching 25 middle school-aged youths about the law, using role-plays, skits, and other interactive teaching techniques. He was assisted by Pius Chisha of IJM and Daniel Daka of the Jubilee Centre. “The Street Law methods, while quite different from the post-colonial British education model that the students were used to, were well-received and extremely engaging for the young people,” reported Nathan. 

Today, the Jubilee Centre is putting Nathan’s lesson plans to use in their youth programs. Nathan returned to the U.S. to complete his degree and is currently pursuing a career in public service, but he aspires to grow and strengthen the program so that more Zambians can benefit from education about everyday law, democracy, and human rights.

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