Ugandan student Alfdaniels Mabingo was attracted to the University of Auckland because it’s one of very few institutions in the world to offer a PhD in Dance Studies.
"I can’t tell you when I started to dance. I found myself dancing the way you find yourself breathing. I come from a big family and community, and dance was part of our day-to-day life.
"After completing my undergraduate and masters degrees in dance in Uganda, and a second masters degree in the United States, extensive research revealed that the University of Auckland was one of very few institutions in the world to offer a PhD in Dance Studies and it was a combination of scholarship, education, research and practice that brought me here.
“There is a global focus in the University of Auckland programme, research done by academics goes far beyond New Zealand, and that is the type of environment and support I needed.
"The University supported me to attend a conference in Brisbane, Australia, where I presented the pedagogies and teaching methodologies that I use to teach Ugandan dance in formal education.
“I spoke, but also learned and interacted with other scholars who challenged my assumptions, interrogated my philosophies and questioned my theories.
“The University also offered me a teaching opportunity, which is a way to share my dance heritage, skills and knowledge of Ugandan cultures, which has advanced my pedagogic practices.
"I am now a board member of the Postgraduate Student Association, which arranges events for students outside of the University to engage with other experiences – doctorate study can sometimes seclude you!
“The people I meet and support I receive at all levels of the University have made me comfortable to call New Zealand my second home.
"My plan is return to Uganda and fully engage in research and scholarship. I will be the first Ugandan with a PhD in Dance Studies, I don’t know of anyone from my country who has pursued dance at this level.
“Therefore I have the responsibility to provide leadership by mentoring other scholars, researchers and educators in the field of dance. Research and scholarship in our dances is inadequate, and we have a wealth of knowledge existing in different communities.
“I look forward to collaborating with academic and practitioners I have met here on research, education and practice-based projects in East Africa – dance can narrow the distance between NZ and East Africa.”