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Wadena graduates meet in Africa

Photo provided Wadena High School grads Elizabeth Colson and Phillip Nervig met up in Africa, where each is living in Zambia. Colson went to the African nation to study the effects of the construction of a dam on the local population. Nervig works as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Embassy there.

Elizabeth Colson and Phillip Nervig, both graduates of Wadena High School, recently spent time together at Elizabeth's home in rural Zambia, Africa.

Elizabeth is the daughter of Louis and Metta Colson. She graduated from Wadena in 1933, obtained a master's degree from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in 1945 in anthropology from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass.

Phillip is the son of Luther and Marilyn Nervig. He graduated from Wadena in 1990, St. Olaf College in 1994 and obtained a master's degree in 2000 in international and public affairs from Columbia University in New York City.

After graduation, Elizabeth answered an advertisement seeking a person with an anthropology degree to work in Northern Rhodesia, which is now Zambia. Elizabeth taught anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley from 1964 until 1984 but returned annually to Zambia to continue her work. In 1958, the largest dam in Africa, Kariba Dam, was constructed. It displaced 30,000 people. Elizabeth then studied the effects of this displacement on the Zambians. Elizabeth retired from Berkeley in 1984 but continued to spend time in rural Zambia. In 2004, she built a home on a farm owned by friends that she had known since 1946, and she continues to reside there today.

Phillip, his wife Katherine, and sons Jack, age 4, and Sam, age 1, have lived in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, since October 2009 where he serves as a foreign service officer in the United States Embassy. He has also served in the United States Embassy in Vientiene, Laos and Kiev, Ukraine.

Elizabeth has continued to maintain contact with friends in Wadena since graduation and Elizabeth and Phillip enjoyed comparing notes half way around the world from Wadena.