Elon Periclean Scholars

November 29 Update: Class of 2017

Over Thanksgiving break, the Periclean Class of 2017 received some difficult news from the University of Namibia (UNAM). According to our university contacts, UNAM is no longer able to provide their previously designated portion of financial support for the conference. This means that as a class, we would be responsible for raising an additional US$10,000, a fundraising task that we are simply unable to fulfill.

Bearing such heavy news, we devoted the entirety of our class to debriefing our sentiments and searching for an answer to the question, “so what now?”

As members of the Periclean Scholars program, we are strongly opposed to merely giving money to a charity or cause; this is against the principles and ethics of aid that we have spent so many years studying. It would be both unsustainable and uninvolved, to an extent.

Together, we discussed the current relationships with individuals in Namibia that we already have, as well as options for connections that could be made in the future. Ideas include working with an Elon graduate at N.U.S.T., contacting the First Lady of Namibia since her agenda involves food security, and utilizing other viable contacts.

So, this post does not provide answers, conclusions, or finite plans in moving forward. We cannot say what the next days, weeks, and months will hold as a cohort. However, we will work hard to turn this obstacle into an opportunity.

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Some homework as you begin Thanksgiving Break

Yes, I am suggesting that you do some ‘homework’ related to your responsibility as a Periclean Scholar.  Your time is very valuable, but I promise that what I am asking you to do will be useful to you.

Your assignments
I hope that this coming week will be filled with rest, relaxation and time for reflection for all Pericleans.  I can safely assume that many of you will reunite with family and friends at a Thanksgiving meal and have the opportunity to have conversations with relatives, neighbors and those that you left behind when you came to Elon.

Assignment #1
You will be asked “how are your classes going?” and that will lead you into talking about your work as a Periclean Scholar.  Like many, I have found TED talks to be a great source of both information and inspiration. This one featuring Bennington College President Liz Coleman will deepen your elevator speech both about Periclean Scholars specifically but more generally on the purpose and value of a liberal arts education.  She does this talk just after President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and some of what she says should resonate with you and also help you to understand what our nation -and our world- needs from us as members of a civil society and as global citizens.  She gives great, timely advice; this video is well worth the 18 minutes you’ll spend watching.


Assignment #2
The current election results will most certainly be a topic of conversation around the dinner table and in other contexts.  As Pericleans we have made a statement on our Facebook page reaffirming our commitment to each other, those who areimg_1597 marginalized and to our partners.  That we are a nation divided on some fundamental levels seems acutely obvious. Our response must be to make every effort to understand ourselves and all those with whom we share this nation and this planet.  This next TED talk was done after the recent election and speaks to the divisions in our nation with measured, proactive reasoning and solid research.  The final minutes include good, sound and very timely advice for  you as you head out for break.


Our charge
One of my favorite quotations is from Mahmood Mamdani in his book Saviours and Survivors.  On page 5 he writes, “In contrast to those who suggest that we act the minute the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before thew whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live -and act.  Even if we must act on our imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.”  Indeed.  Let’s all have a great break filled with learning, listening, sharing and a thirst to join with others in our common goal of creating a more just world for all.


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Periclean 2017 Blog Post 11/15

Today was a very productive class.  We were able to discuss and reflect about many important topics.  To begin, Annie passed the You Rock Rock to Cayley (me)!  I was surprised at first but honored to be recognized!  Honestly, I have loved taking notes throughout the semester.  Not only does it help me stay focused and involved in the many aspects of Periclean, but it also gives me a deeper understanding of our class.   Following this, class reps reminded everyone to post reflections for BHA and the blog.  Next, we got committee updates from everyone.  These varied in progress as well as emotion.  Some groups feel a significant amount of pressure beyond others.  While we all play an important role in our cohort, this time of the semester is stressful, and communication issues with our partners have made some tasks more complicated.  I think it’s important to recognize this and send as much love and support to our Periclean family during this time.  This led into a Rose, Thorn, Leaf reflection.  This was my favorite part of the class as it was clear that many of us needed a mental break.  Venting was also really nice!  It made us closer as we were able to relate to student workload, as well as professional obligations.  Together, we all look forward to Thanksgiving break with loved ones.  In two weeks we will meet again with a focus on our research.

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Periclean statement in light of 11/8

Periclean statement in light of 11/8

As Periclean Scholars, we believe that our nation is both strong and beautiful because of our diversity. We believe in supporting individuals of all races, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic classes, backgrounds, religions, and cultures.

We, the Periclean Classes of Elon University, are striving to become civically engaged students who fight for justice and equality.

Megan and Katie authoring the statement.

Megan and Katie authoring the statement.

We are here to listen, to encourage, to support, and to grow. As Periclean Scholars, we will combat any and all acts of discrimination and marginalization with our own empathetic actions of kindness, love, and service.  

We remain deeply committed to our global partners, past and present, and will redouble our efforts to work together for a world where everyone has access to safe and effective pathways to dignity.


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2017 Class Update: Nov. 8th

The Class of 2017 started off our time together this week with some logistical tasks, such as who is going to the BHA next week, who is writing the blog post for the week, etc. Our BHA visits seem to be going really well, and everyone who has gone so far has had an excellent time! We also discussed Cookies to Go-Go, which is being held TONIGHT (November 9th). Put in an order and support the Class of 2017 while eating delicious cookies!

Our class then moved into committee updates (Local, Marketing/Fundraising, and Conference). The local committee did not have too much to update, other than the fact that our visits have been very valuable to both the kids and ourselves. The marketing and fundraising committee gave a few updates on things like reserving and signing up to work Moseley tables for meal swipes in a few weeks, creating swag for the conference, and our YouCaring fundraising page. Lastly, we moved into the conference committee, which is where we spent the remainder of our class. To our dismay, things have not exactly been turning out the way we have expected them to. This is due to difficult communication across parties, as well as the inability to make future plans as a result of non-definitive answers. The conversation we had mostly revolved around the budget that we had been given for the conference, all of which we were expected to pay; however, this budget was approximately double of what we are able and had intended on paying. A time-sensitive revision of this budget is currently in the works. Every member of our conference committee is a rockstar and has been so incredibly patient and mature through this entire process. And at the end of the day, our class is all in this together and will do everything in our power to make sure that this project happens. More developments on the way!


The Class of 2017

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2017 Class Update: Nov. 1st

Today in class, our 2017 Periclean cohort successfully tied up a few loose ends, preparing for our final fundraisers (Cookies to Go-Go, and Meal Swipes) and trips to The Burlington Housing Authority, and solidifying a few ideas for our Spring Project. 

We will be hosting our final Cookies to  Go-Go event for this semester next Wednesday on November 9th. Be sure to order your cookies and support our Voices of Sustainability Conference! Similarly, our Meal Swipes fundraiser, taking place December 5th- 9th, will also be benefitting Voices of Sustainability. 

While in class we also were able to confirm that we would have Pericleans at The Burlington Housing Authority for these last few weeks until the end of the semester. This was exciting for our cohort because it will mark a full semester of us positively contributing to our local community. In addition to continuing our relationship with The Burlington Housing Authority in the spring, we have been wanting to take on something else for our local spring project. So far our thoughts have been centered around hosting a festival of some kind at The Burlington Housing Authority. This festival could look something like a health and wellness fair for the children we have been working with this semester. As a cohort, we also tinkered with the idea of giving the students we have been working with this semester a project for them to complete and then teach their families about at the end of the semester through a presentation or poster fair. It is very important to us to have input from The Burlington Housing Authority before we move forward with any local project for the spring, so until we hear back from our contact we will continue to brainstorm new ideas for our spring project.

Towards the end of class we had a guest speaker, Dr. Cahill, come to our class to speak about the philosophy of ethics and how we can use the tools she provided us to help with our restorative plan for our Periclean cohort. Dr. Cahill spoke of a spectrum that could help us identify our individual and cohort feelings about our actions taken while pursuing the KIND Grant; one end of the spectrum signified feelings of wanting to “sweep it under the rug” and not recognize how big of a deal it was, while the other end of the spectrum signified feelings of wanting to punish ourselves for our actions repeatedly and having it create shameful and  negative feelings towards ourself. After explaining the basics of the spectrum, Dr. Cahill opened her presentation up to us for questions and discussion. 

In order to continue to thoughtfully move forward after this presentation, I think that each member of our cohort needs to really think about where we fall on that spectrum in regards to our actions with the KIND grant. In addition, I think that going forward we will all need to be cognizant of each other’s feelings and attempt to help each other with the healing and restorative process. I am hopeful that this will bring us closer as a cohort and will truly be a teachable and transformative moment for each of us. 

Peace, Love, Periclean.

Shay & Periclean 2017

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Student Research Projects

The Class of 2017 is working to plan and solidify details for a conference that will take place in Namibia in January 2017. This conference will be an interactive environment for university students and professionals to share knowledge on techniques for developing food security particularly in Namibia but also in all parts of the world. This conference has allotted time for students to share their personal research on related topics. Students from The University of Namibia and Elon University will conduct research to be presented at this conference. As an integral part of Periclean Scholars Program we also strive to educate and share our learning with our own community. We have decided a good way to do this is to present our research again at Elon University through SURF Day, the undergraduate research presentation day. Below is a summary of the topics that Elon students will be researching in small groups to present.

To begin, our class chose to look at the very foundation of the work we are doing. One group of students will investigate the sustainability of food aid programs in the United States and Internationally. There is a debate in global spheres about sustainability and the line between crisis and development aid and how addressing food security falls along that line and in what situations. This group of students are looking to present on the ‘best practices’ of sustainable food aid at the conference in Namibia and also to the Elon Community on SURF day.

Alongside the many projects a group of students will research current information about the psychological effects of lack of access to food on people. As a class we feel that we have learned and the community is more aware of the physical and economic effects of lack of access to food, but there seems to be a gap in the conversation about the psychological effects of food insecurity. This team of students hope to fill this gap of information to make ourselves and the Elon community more aware of the data and research behind the psychological effects that much of our community may feel from living in a food desert and having lack of access to food.

As part of our projects a team of students are filming a documentary that brings light to the topic of food security and how different institutions are working towards improving food accessibility. Filming for the documentary began in June 2016 when a group of students traveled to Namibia to meet with contacts and begin developing the storyboard for the documentary. The documentary is anticipated to be finished in April 2017. With this deadline, the research team hopes to showcase clips of the film as part of the SURF presentations as well as give a presentation regarding the steps taken to film this documentary and the challenges that were faced by the team.

Another topic that we explored was the ethics of aid. More specifically, how the United States and other Western nations fail to take into account certain ethical, social and cultural ideals when delivering aid to African countries. Billions of dollars are poured into foreign aid, accomplishing things from providing economic foundations to bricks and mortar projects in small communities. There is a diverse array of state and non-state actors that contribute to foreign aid, yet despite the influx of money on these issues and regions, corruption continues to persist. And it isn’t exclusively corruption from the side of African nations, but elements of our system of aid are flawed which has allowed for the opportunity of corruption and manipulation to exist. This research aims to understand and analyze these key factors.

Narrowing the focus to Alamance County, another project will be focused on food deserts and food insecurity within Elon’s surrounding communities. Many students wouldn’t notice it traveling within a certain radius of Elon, but the outer reaches of Alamance County are struggling with access to food. One problem is the disconnect between more rural and isolated areas of Alamance county and the lack of markets or grocery stores in that area. Not only that, but other types of unhealthier foods are becoming more accessible with the increase in fast food within the county. It’s cheap and comes in large portions, with trade offs being the unhealthy manners in which the food is prepared. This is another issue our class is exploring.

Finally, our class will explore the relationship between HIV/AIDS and food. For people living with HIV/AIDS, it’s important to sustain one’s healthy living through a balanced and nutritious diet. This is important and applies to all people, but even more so for those HIV positive. The problem occurs when the communities where HIV positive people live are food insecure. This adds many problems that disproportionately affects those living with HIV. Another group of Periclean students will be exploring HIV/AIDS in Africa especially in the context of food deserts and food insecurity.

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BHA Follow-Up

During our visit to BHA, Caila, Christian, and Cam had a tremendous time and think the children enjoyed the class as well. We began with a brief presentation on how to live sustainably, which the kids were very engaged in and seemed to enjoyed. We asked them various questions about what sustainability means, and how they can play a role in living in an environmentally friendly way.
Following this presentation, we facilitated multiple activities with a focus in recycling and repurposing. The first activity was “sustainability bowling”, where we divided into two teams and played traditional ten pin bowling (with a certain leniency on the rules) where the “pins” were made at of totally recyclable items. After that, we did a word search where every word in the answer key had to do with recycling and sustainability. The final activity, which we did not fully complete, was a sorting activity where students sorted between objects, determining which ones were recyclable and which were not.
On the whole, the kids seemed to thoroughly enjoy the activities and were very engaged throughout the hour. They especially enjoyed “sustainability bowling” because they got to move, jump around, and interact with one another; they didn’t want it to end! Oppositely, the kids got a little antsy while doing the word search, and some got a little bit frustrated after a few minutes. We could tell that the more engaging the activity was, the more likely they were grasp the lesson and be engaged.
Additionally, we very much enjoyed the hour, including the lesson and activities. It was awesome to convey information we have focused upon as part of our Periclean cohort. Having the kids be so receptive to it was as added bonus and reinvigorated our passion for the project.

Suggestions for future groups:

– Be flexible with activities and rules!! This makes it much more fun for the kids because they do not respond as well to rigidity.
– Be well-versed with the lesson beforehand
– Focus more on activities that get the kids up and moving around
– Try to build on previous lessons and link them together!
– Meet with your team beforehand to strategize


The biggest thing that I learned at the BHA was how to harness my inner-child; how to see the world with a sense of childlike wonder. I absolutely LOVED watching the kids get so into our lesson about sustainability! They came up with the most creative ways to be more environmentally friendly, and it was so fun to catch a glimpse into how they think. So many people discount the ideas of kids because they think “what do they know, they’re just kids,” but I think that they bring a whole new perspective to the table!! I even picked up some ideas on how to recycle more and save more energy like only buying things at the store that come in recyclable packages.
I also learned that kids get the most out of what they’re being taught when the instructor is FLEXIBLE!! This is key! If you go into the BHA with a strict agenda, script, and time frame…it’s not going to happen. These kids are full of life, joy, and laughter. They want to talk, engage, and play! Usually I am one that likes to stick to a plan, but I really learned how to be flexible and let the conversation go where ever the kids took it.
I LOVE working with the BHA, and I can definitely see that the kids have gotten things out of the previous lessons. They were relating things we talked about to previous weeks, and even asked about other Pericleans that had been there before. It is encouraging to hear that they remember us, and more importantly, remember what we are teaching them!


Reflecting on our visit to BHA, my major takeaway was simply a reigniting of my passion for our project and Periclean as a whole. To see young kids really buying into the information presented was really incredible, even if what we presented was only adjacently related to our work. I have always enjoyed working with kids, having three younger brothers and working in the past as a summer camp counselor, so the trip to BHA was a much needed break from my life at Elon even for just an hour. It was a very enjoyable experience.
On the whole, the lesson plan went over well with the kids and they were very engaged. I will say, it is very important to remember that at the end of the day the lesson is for them, and it is not critical every single detail is retained by the kids. It is meant as a fun experience for the kids and if they learn even one thing from the lesson, it should be considered a success. We taught on sustainability and I believe the kids walked away from the class a little more conscious about the subject and how they can live sustainably each day. In this way, the class went very well.
In conclusion, I had a great time at BHA and it was awesome to do some hands-on service as part of Periclean. I would encourage anyone who has not gone yet to do so, as it is a great experience.

When preparing for the presentation we would be giving to the Burlington Housing Authority, I reflected on my past experiences working alongside kids. Through all the experiences I’ve had with camp counseling and tutoring, one thing that has stood out was the idea of being “child-like” as opposed to “childish”. Being child-like suggests enthusiasm and energy that many young kids have whereas childishness is more related to immaturity and whiny behavior.

It was important then to employ that child-like enthusiasm while giving the presentation on sustainability. Motivating the kids to speak up and engage with the material was for more effective when I showed my interest in the topic through body language and guiding questions. The kids contributed great ideas and were really creative and thinking outside the box with their responses. On top of that, they just brought a lot of spirit and energy to the classroom which just made for a very fun experience. Overall, I definitely would recommend this experience as it was inspiring to listen to the kids’ feedback as well as being a fun environment to present in.

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Update from Class on 10/25/16

As we gear up for today’s class, we should recap what we’ve been up to in the last week.

In our last class, we discussed a number of things from the direction of the overall Periclean Program to our plans for the January Conference and beyond.

In the last Periclean Steering Committee meeting, the future of the program and the distinction between it being a social and an academic organization were discussed. As of this year, you are no longer allowed to participate as a Periclean Scholar without taking the course for credit. In general, the program is being structured to be more academic, with more structured syllabi and grading criteria. We discussed this at length, citing both the pros and cons. For many of us, these new criteria posed problems, as we are already taking 18 credit hours, and registering for the class would require us to pay for the overloaded courses. However, we do understand that this is the first step towards having the program recognized as a greater scholars program on campus with the all the funding and administrative opportunities that entails.

In planning for the Voices of Sustainability Conference set for January 23rd-25th, 2017, we’ve decided to cover the costs of travel for students through travel stipends, which will be a large part of our budget. There’s been some back and forth between the University of Namibia and us on what our overall budget is going to be, so much of the discussion is still up in the air. Our latest response has been to ask them to cover the cost of housing, among other things – we are hopeful that their accommodations will help us to make the conference as successful as we are envisioning it! As for programming, we’ve decided to split up into research groups, with those of us that are going presenting at the conference. As of right now, the topics for research are:

  • The most effective diet for HIV/AIDS
  • The effect of knowing where your food comes from
  • An analysis of the Alamance County food desert
  • Sustainability of food aid programs
  • Psychological effects of food insecurity
  • Ethics of aid
  • Research involved in The Omega Project documentary

Our partnership with the Burlington Housing Authority has been going wonderfully, with last week’s lesson including painting pumpkins! We plan to continue our partnership with them into the next semester, and possibly incorporate them into our spring semester local project.

Our next Cookies To Go Go fundraiser is scheduled for Wednesday, November 9th! Our last one was a huge success, raising around $600 in a single night. With plans to increase awareness of the event and improved planning, we hope to raise even more.


That’s it! Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates on the Class of 2017’s progress.

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Lesson Planning for BHA Visits

This semester, we have partnered with the Burlington Housing Authority (BHA) to teach at their after school program. The BHA provides affordable housing to families and elderly, handicapped, and disabled individuals, usually from low income backgrounds. The after school program we are working with gives children in grades fourth through sixth a place to go after school to receive help with homework, and supervision before parents and family members arrive home. Each week, three volunteers from our class go to the BHA to teach about topics related to our class’s focus on food security, agriculture, and sustainability.

The local committee coordinates these visits- from setting them up, to maintaining accountability of our cohort, to lesson planning. Various members of the local committee are responsible for these tasks, and Mel Mackin and I do the lesson planning. We meet each week to put together the lesson plans, which include an educational component (usually a short powerpoint) and some activities (coloring, painting, drawing, word searches, games). Thus far, the topics we have covered are the basics of farming/gardening, sustainability, and pumpkins (Halloween themed), with our upcoming visit focusing on nutrition.

Creating the lesson plans usually involves a good deal of educational research on the topic chosen, as well as some research on possible activities we can do with the kids. We gather information and ideas from academic sources, educational programs and websites targeted at kids (e.g. Food Trust, and Eat.Right.Now Nutrition Education Program), and Pinterest (activity ideas).

Lesson planning also involves an understanding of and research on food insecurity and low income communities. According to Feeding America, 15.7% of Alamance county’s residents are food insecure, and 24.1% of children are food insecure. Burlington is also categorized by the USDA as a food desert, which is an area where a significant proportion of low income residents lack access to affordable and nutritious food. Thus it is important that our lessons account for this context by providing options attainable in these settings, and information about new services in the community that help combat food insecurity.

Overall, we aim to create fun, engaging, and educational lesson plans that challenge and encourage kids to make smart, sustainable choices for their health and our planet’s.

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