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Class of 2015 class notes 3/3/15

 

Monthly Munchies

  • Reserved Moseley kitchen for March 18th
  • Digital board ad submitted
  • Need to reserve card-swiper and pick it up the day of
  • look for sign-up sheet on the google drive

Fundraising Events

  • Fundraiser 5K à need to go through Athletics to reserve CX field for 5kProblems:
  • Time and place to draw people’s attention to the 5K?(Mosley tables probably aren’t going to get much support)
  • Sport Often- an online platform to register people for events like a 5K; keeps tracks of participants and registration fees; sends us a check at the end
  • class of 2011 created a manual to host a 5K; Tom to send us this manual
  • aiming for one of the last Fridays in April or first Friday in May
  • Pelican Snowballs:
  • Eliana talking to owner of Pelican Snowballs à in the past SGA brought Pelican Snowballs to campus; could we do a profit share and have Pelican Snowballs come physically to campus (snowball truck)? à Friday afternoon in the spring on Speaker’s Corner; we could also have RFF and/or Periclean materials set up as well

Conference Call with Christine (RFF) 

  • RFF featured in Nicholas Kristof/Sheryl Wudunn’s new book and documentary, A Path Appears –> good exposure for RFF, good for fundraising; suggests we do an awareness event using A Path Appears
  •  Suggested pursuing family foundations for potential grants
  • Suggested using an online platform like Razu or Crowdrise to fundraise –> to honor our graduation, we could ask people to give a gift to this online campaign
  • excited about sustaining the partnership between RFF and Elon, would like to work with an alternative organization on campus after we leave
  • Stoles: Christine may be able to find some fabric that we could turn into stoles ourselves
  • To-Do:
    • how much total fabric do we need for stoles?
    • obtain A Path Appears
    • identify info we need for family foundation grants
    • create a list of family foundations we are looking into
Posted in Class of 2015: Haiti | Leave a comment

Class of 2016: Looking Ahead

This week the 2016’s really focused on where our class is going and what we are moving towards. Representatives from our class recently had a discussion with one of our partners, Hope for Honduran Children, to develop some feasible initiatives for us to start working on. She supported our idea of a scholarship fund for some of the boys living in her transition home and gave suggestions of funding the transportation of school supplies or donations of laptops and internet access. Our class was really excited about all of these ideas and already have a committee working to decide which of these initiatives would be the most feasible and, ultimately, the most beneficial to the boys in Honduras.

 

Discussions with our partner also led to us asking a very important question: if given the opportunity to go to Honduras during winter term 2016, should we go? We discussed what type of aid we want to be doing and who would really be benefitting from our going down there. If we go to Honduras, we want to be utilizing our skills to help the people we have been working for, rather than merely touring the country. We recognize that going there may really be most beneficial to our own personal development, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We also found that it could benefit the Periclean Scholars program as a whole because we would gain on-the-ground knowledge and experience that we could share with subsequent classes, improving their projects. This discussion really forced us to reflect on our years with Periclean and look to the future for our class. We will be keeping this discussion in mind moving forward with our initiatives and projects.

As a class, we are furthering our partnerships with Summit for Honduras and LUPE. We are volunteering with LUPE on saturdays teaching ESL classes for local Latina women. Additionally, our class is taking steps in planning our campus summit to be held next year. There are a lot of great things in the works and the class of 2016 is already seeing progress as a class this semester!

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Some thoughts on voluntourism

Voluntourism

An important question:  “Are Periclean Scholars ever ‘voluntourists?'”


 

Some thoughts about voluntourism

First, a definition
The usage of this term has increased exponentially in the last half decade and for many it has negative connotations.  For some voluntourism is one manifestation of the overtly disparaging “slacktivism” meme that has gained a lot of traction as DSC02126well.  This wikipedia article does a nice job reviewing the history, current status and controversies surrounding “volunteer travel.”

Required reading
Perhaps required reading for all Pericleans should be the March 2012 Atlantic article by Teju Cole “The White-Savior Industrial Complex” (with a nod to the dated but more-relevant-now-than-it-was then farewell address by President D.W. Eisenhower entitled “The Military-Industial Complex“).  This essay has become part of the cannon with regard to critiquing the activism and voluntourism efforts of many -mostly white- Americans, and it is cited or nodded to by an increasingly wide away of authors and bloggers.  Cole famously made the point that “The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.”  His words challenge all of us to examine our privileges:  our Americanness, our whiteness*, our English language facility, and, most prominently, our [relative] wealth.  [*Regarding “whiteness”, one of the most surprising -though, we found out later, not unique- experiences of the African-American male who traveled in 2011 with a Periclean crew to Zambia was that he was referred to, like the rest of us, as ‘mzungu’.]

Do I see myself here?
In their article “#InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism” after referencing The Onion article spoofing Facebook photos by young American women traveling to Africa, sociologists Lauran Kascak and Sayantani Dasgupta argue that “Voluntourism is ultimately about the fulfillment of the volunteers themselves, not necessarily what they bring to the communities they visit.”  They break voluntourism photos into three telling categories The Suffering Other, The Self-Directed Samaritan, and The Overseas Selfie.

Ouch. In various ways on past travels around the world I am guilty of taking all three, though not recently.

As ‘Voluntourism’ Explodes In Popularity, Who’s It Helping Most?” posted on the Carrie Kahn’s “Goats and Soda” blog at NPR offers some soft challenges to the idea of voluntourism.  As is often the case, though, commenter ‘emanresu on the post was even more informative and incisive.  I include the whole comment because it is so well written and expressesIMG_1628 many point with which I agree.

“The voluntourism trend has given countless white middle-class western kids the opportunity to get a glimpse of what life is like for most of the rest of the world. After a couple weeks of squat toilets, intermittent electricity, and massively overcrowded public transportation, they fly home to tell their families about how life-changing it was to teach English to brown children and get over their fears of cockroaches. All well and good for those who have the resources to pay for a trip like this, and I sincerely applaud the good intentions– the world needs more people with their eyes open to the plight of others, and a bit of international awareness. But, can we all stop trying to pretend that voluntourism isn’t another form of soft colonialism?

Consider this hypothetical situation: you are planning a two-week trip to Nicaragua to build a school for orphans. You are spending thousands of dollars on airfare, and likely another fee for signing up with the school-building organization. During your stay, you will very likely do shoddy construction work, have “meaningful interactions” with adorable kids in your terrible Spanish, get mild food poisoning, and reinforce the image of Rich White People as Saviors of the Third World. After you leave, the building may or may not be used for its intended purpose. Perhaps more volunteers, or else locals with proper expertise, will have to undo the poor work that you did with such good intentions. In any case, you feel satisfied, the poor people have a school, and now you can all go home and continue your own lives.

But. What about the unemployed carpenters in that village? Why not spend a fraction of the money you used to pay your travel there, and employ them to do a proper job? Or sponsor the whole community to build it together, thus creating a sense of responsibility towards the building and its future? And what about the school itself, what happens when the organization leaves, having done what it set out to do, and there is no money to pay a teacher or buy schoolbooks for the adorable orphans? Maybe the building will be repurposed as a shed for animals, or will slowly fall into disrepair. It might just end up being “that place the the gringos built that can’t be used because they nailed the roof on wrong.”

I don’t wish to discourage anyone from applying their goodwill. I just urge us all to critically examine the implications of our actions, individual and collective, and try to examine the source of the problems that we are so keen so solve instead of addressing the surface. From a position of privilege, can we take a more informed view of the vast socio-economic discrepancies directly caused by our own complicity in a system which values capital over life? Of course the world needs help. And it’s a beautiful thing that there are so many people ready to offer what time and money they have. But the benefits of voluntourism are largely an illusion.

I think the term ‘soft colonialism’ is worth a deeper look, to be sure. Are we, as Ivan Illich argued long ago, nothing more that salespeople for middle class America?

Doing harm?
Making detailed note of a specific -and perhaps insidious- form of voluntourism, visiting orphanages in the developing world, Rafia Zakaria in his article “The white tourists burden” explains that,  “Volunteerism presents an escape, a rare encounter with an authenticity sorely missed, hardship palpably and physically felt – for a small price.”  He is among may who are asking the question about whether or not voluntourism is doing more harm than good.

Scanning down the list of blog posts -some very on point and other not so much- on this Huffington Post  site is useful and can serve to shed light on the good, the bad and the ugly of voluntourism.  Of particular note is the blog post that went viral by Pippa Biddle entitled “The problem with little white girls (and boys):  why I stopped being a voluntourist” where she chronicles her transformation of perspective on her efforts to ‘help.’

My thoughts on this topic were put into some words of “Advice for new college graduates out to save the world“, though you’ll find nothing terribly new in this piece it may sum up some of what you have read above.

Summary thoughts
We should never proceed blindly as we seek to address our need to show -and act on- our empathy toward others, wherever this may happen.  Though we all need to avoid the “paralysis of analysis” that this self-questioning can generate, we must never act as if knowing the real impact of our actions is not relevant, despite our best intentions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A lot of snow and strategy

After missing a class session due to inclement weather, we’re back on track. The first order of business was discussing our new website! Designed by Kelsey Lane, it features information about the general Periclean program as well as information on our class mission. It’s a great start to what will most likely become the center of the Periclean Class of 2017’s online presence. Dr. Thomas Arcaro came by our class to talk about several items, the first of which being a website for the Periclean Foundation as a whole that is being developed as well, which will allow us to stay connected to the program long after we graduate. He discussed the direness of the drought in Namibia; the already incredibly dry nation’s vital grain crop (Mahangu) is struggling with the lack of rain, leaving many desperate for food. Dr. Arcaro also updated us on the class of 2018 and reminded us of the Lumen Prize.

Networking became the focus as we discussed where to go next. We are looking for as much information as possible from people that live in Namibia and have experience with the issues that the nation faces. It is important that we act in an effective and meaningful way, and we can only do this with the aid of our Namibian counterparts. Official methods of communication were established as well as a committee for contacting and establishing relationships with partners.

We have some cultural events coming up for some class-wide bonding scheduled by the social committee. We are also working hard to spread the word about the application process for the class of 2018, with a new pamphlet design and t-shirts on the way. Besides that, we’re continuing to work and get more information for our possible project. Despite the snow we are still going strong!

-Susan Reynolds and David May

Posted in Class of 2017-Namibia | Leave a comment

Initiatives!

We are currently working toward completing various initiatives that will hopefully benefit our class, our partners, and the country of Honduras. We have split up into three different committees to discuss our various initiatives. We are supporting LUPE (check out their Facebook https://es-la.facebook.com/lupenc) by attending Spanish classes led by Suyapa. We hope to create lesson plans to help local women learn basic English. We are also hoping to spread the word about Fairness Alamance, which is a really great initiative (to learn more: https://fairnessalamancenc.wordpress.com/about/). We are excited to further support and continue to work with our partners!!

Posted in Class of 2016: Honduras, Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

ESL Classes: New opportunities with LUPE

Our partnership with LUPE (Latinos Unidos Promoviendo Esperanza) is evolving in exciting ways.  Last semester, the 2016’s forged connections with this organization, which seeks to sustain human dignity, community growth, and equity in Alamance County, with a focus on Latino families.  Our primary role with LUPE took shape through our assistance with Spanish classes provided for Latino children each Saturday morning.  Continuing with the theme of promoting self-determination through bilingualism, one of our classmates, Casey, saw an additional window of opportunity in our relationship with the mothers who bring their children to class each week: teaching ESL classes.  Many of the Latina mothers of LUPE are eager to develop their basic English skills, and, in order to continue with our goals of knowledge-building, community development, and empowerment, the 2016’s have decided to take on this new role.  Each Saturday morning we will be holding an English workshop with the mothers, teaching them about sentence structure, common phrases, and basic vocabulary.  This will not only be a great opportunity for us to make stronger connections with the Latino Community of Alamance County, but also a way for us to engage in a mutual learning community where we can be both teachers and students in our relationship with the women.  Besides, it is a great way for our Spanish speakers to work on their language skills!

On Saturday, Abby and I had the pleasure of teaching one of the first ESL classes, which went very well.  As the speaking level of the women ranges from basic to low-intermediate, we choose to focus on the topics that are most desired by the women, collectively.  For many, the fear that the outside community may be taking advantage of the language barrier is the greatest motivation to learn English.  For this reason, some possible ideas for topics include language in the supermarket, sentence structure, and money vocabulary, so that they can assert themselves if they have been shortchanged by a cashier.  We look forward to our continued partnership with LUPE and the future of the ESL classes.  All 2016’s–regardless of their Spanish level–will have the ability to participate, and we hope to use funds to purchase teaching/learning materials, dictionaries, etc. to make these classes as beneficial to the women as possible. Chao and have a wonderful week, Pericleans!

IMG_5503

Posted in Class of 2016: Honduras, Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Update on Class of ’08 partner Schools for Chiapas

Schools for Chiapas and the Class of 2008

Background
The Class of 2008 choose Mexico as their country of focus (note:  that was back at the beginning of the program when Classes choose both their country of interest and the issue(s) upon which to focus) and began their search for partners.  Since many of the ’08’s were eduction majors the name “Schools for Chiapas” seemed a good fit as they searched the Internet and so they contacted the founder, Peter Brown.  This initial, tentative contact back in 2006 led to what is now one of the longest and productive partnerships in Periclean Scholars history.  By invitation from Schools for Chiapas a small Elon/Periclean Scholar film team traveled to Chiapas (southern Mexican state; one of the poorest regions of the country) in the winter of 2006 and then a Class travel experience was taken in December/January of 2007-08.  This travel included eight members of the Class of 2008, Dr. Bird Stasz from Elon’s School ofIMG_1595 Education and Dr. Tom Arcaro, director.

Initial plans for work to rehabilitate a derelict school in the town of San Andres (near San Cristobal de las Casas) fell through because of political tensions, so the Class adapted and agreed to paint a new school in the small village of Suytic, not far from San Andres.  After much discussion it was decided by the local Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) Junta that the school should be painted and that a mural would be done on the main outside walls of the school.  Peter Brown was very familiar with the work of muralist Gustavo Chavez Pavon and Pavon had previously worked with the EZLN (otherwise referred to as the  Zapatistas), but this was the first time Schools for Chiapas and Pavon had collaborated on a project.
IMG_1630Using video footage from both the first and second travel to Chiapas, Tesla Mellage, ’08, worked with her Class on a documentary called Painting Without Permission that focuses on the Periclean experience of working with Schools for Chiapas, the EZLN and the people of Suytic.  Not inconsequentially, Suytic is the birthplace of one of the most respected leaders of the EZLN, Comandante Ramona (d. 2006), a woman small in stature but a giant in terms of vision and leadership.  This documentary, after being thoroughly vetted by the EZLN, was mass produced and has been distributed throughout the United States and in Mexico and is still featured and available on the Schools for Chiapas web site.

The Periclean Foundation (formerly know as the Periclean Scholars Alumni Association, PSAA) has continuously supported Schools for Chiapas since 2008, making yearly donations to support their work in Chiapas.

Screenshot 2015-02-25 10.19.45

Click on image to enlarge.

The present
On May 2, 2014,  José Luis Solís López  now know as Compañero Galeano, a teacher, was killed defending a Zapatista autonomous school in Realidad, Chiapas, also know as Caracole 1, a home to the Zapatista movement.  The response to this assassination by the EZLN was measured and gained wide international support.  Tom Arcaro, Director, the Periclean Scholars at Elon University, and Kevin Trapani, founder and CEO of the Redwoods Group (which endowed the PSAA) are
among thousands of signers from around the globe to the “An Attack on Us All” campaign.

One outcome of this campaign was to raise funds to build a new -and bigger- school in Realidad in recent months.  Schools for Chiapas has been asked to bring together muralist Pavon and his team to paint a spectacular mural on this newly completed school and to help organize art and activism workshops.  Peter Brown has asked the Periclean Foundation for support on this project and, after corresponding with 2008 alums, is has been decided that the Periclean Foundation will make a meaningful contribution to support the purchase of paint and supplies to make the mural a reality.

Updates on this project will be presented in future blog posts here and on the Schools for Chiapas web site.


 

Posted in Class of 2008: Mexico, Director -Tom Arcaro, Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Fall 2014 Resume for the Class of 2017

Periclean Scholars Class of 2017 Resume

Mission Statement
We, the Periclean Scholars Class of 2017 at Elon University with a focus on Namibia, are still working on a class mission statement.  As individuals, we are creating personal mission statements, but understand that even those, will be revisited and updated as we grow, both as individuals, and as a cohort.  We have much to learn, much to do, and will put forth our best efforts.

Readings/Viewings:
Toxic Charity
Soul of a Citizen
Letters Left Unset by “J”
Various Namibian Newspapers
– The Daily Namibian,
– The Namibian Sun,
– The Informante,
– The Caprivi Vision
Discussion Forum and News Forum pertaining to articles from previous listed sources
A Measure of Our Humanity- Class of 2006
Various Documentaries on YouTube supplied by Carol

Class Activities
Created the class syllabus
For the “Good of the Group
Wrote blog posts
Discussion Board (Moodle) – Current Events
News Forum (Moodle) – Current Events
Created the elevator speech for the Celebrating Pericleans gathering
Group Projects/Presentation
– Culture
– Government/Politics/International Relations
– Infrastructure/Economy
– Education
– Health
– Geography/Environment
Information was put on Moodle documents
Conceptualized the framework for committees and roles in class
Created Committees
– Steering Committee
– Committee on Committees
– Fundraising and Grants
– Alumni Relations
– Media Communications and Marketing
– Events
– Social
Research a few potential partners
– Hydroponics
– Community partner ideas from Duke
Discussion of possible project ideas in small groups in class
Created/designed a class t-shirt

Guest Speakers
Dr. Tom Arcaro: Director of Project Pericles
– Discussed the Periclean Program, the class of 2006 in Namibia, and allowed our class to ask questions about both of these things

Anita Isaacs: Namibian Partner of Project Pericles
– Q&A on previous Namibian class and on current issues and situation in Namibia

Jamie Smedsmo: Peace Corp Volunteer
– Shared her experience being part of the Peace Corps in Namibia and what she thought were important issues

Dr. Lucinda Adams: Faculty member of School of Communications, and member of the Lumen Scholar Committee
Sarah Vaughn: Student recipient of the Lumen Scholar prize
– Discussed what being a Lumen Scholar is, and the application process

Heidi Frontani: Class of 2010 Mentor, Geography Professor, Interim Director of AAAF Studies
– Discussed the experiences of her class
– Offered information and advice on the African/African American Studies program

Samantha White: Periclean Scholars Class of 2006
– Spoke to our class on what she is doing now and how Periclean has affected her decisions
– She talked about where she is now, what her experiences have been, and advice she had to give us.

Aisha Mitchell: Periclean Scholars Class of 2012 & Assistant Director of Corporate and Employee Relations for the College of Arts & Sciences
– Spoke on the progress and stages her class went through each year and offered us advice on how to -approach the semester
– Discussed her time as a Periclean and how it impacted her life path

Ronda Kosusko: Student Professional Development Center Career Specialist
Administered MyPlan for assessment of our individual personality types/characteristics
– We divided into groups based on each letter
– Came up with qualities/things we needed from the class

Aiden Dyer, Drew Dimos, Caroline James, Kerrianne Durkin:  2016 Periclean Scholars
– Engaged in a discussion on how to strengthen the mentor/mentee relationship and offered advice on how to continue our first year as Pericleans
– Asked them questions and they gave us some tips and ideas on how to run this class effectively.

Stephanie Carroll: Periclean Scholars Class of 2015
– One of the Student Advisory Group for 2017; offered advice on ways to approach our project and also answered any questions we had

Steve Mencarini: Director for the Center for Leadership
– Discussed various meanings of the word/action of “leader” and “leadership”; gave some of us a headache

Field Trip to the Challenge Course
Team building and getting to know one another through different activities
Posted in discussion board

Fundraising
Periclean Cards- Raised $70.00

Pan-Periclean Activities
Organizational Fair
Celebrating Periclean Scholars
Restavek Week (Class of 2015)
Freedom Foundation Benefit Concert
Panel on Human Trafficking
Poverty, Social Injustice, and Migration in Central America Panel (Class of 2016)
Homecoming Tailgate
Monthly Munchies
Reading Day Open House
Education of potential members about Periclean

Other Activities
Discussion of possible project ideas in small groups in class
“Good of the Group” discussions at the beginning of class, relating to possible partners, reactions, etc.|
Got to know other Pericleans through going to social events and getting meals together
Conceptualized the framework for committees and roles in class

Goals for next semester
Fundraising
Begin planning various fundraising methods

Global Citizenship
Continue to discover what it means to be a global citizen
Deepen understanding of Namibia
Commit to attend 2 cultural events
Continue to read/watch movies about Namibia

Connections
Get in touch with alumni

Periclean Mindset
Strengthen group unity
Get to know classmates better (weekly lunches and coffee dates)
Keep a “Periclean” mindset while abroad (i.e. don’t forget about Periclean)
Take risks and be open minded to all opportunities
Begin planning Pan-Periclean Events
Work on planning induction for the class of 2018
Create personal as well as class mission statements

Enhanced Knowledge
Read Letters Left Unsent by the end of the spring
Read Toxic Charity in its entirety
Read more of Soul of a Citizen
Read the blog more often
Read more books that relate to community development
Read articles weekly

Moving Forward
Gain insight from citizens and professors on Namibia past and present
Have a basis for a project
Find more ideas for a class project
Establish an area of focus for our class project

Identify potential partners and contacts
Based on both research and findings from our search for partners and contacts target an issue we would like to tackle
Find organizations that are doing work in Namibia or would like to pursue it with us
Reach out to potential contacts in Namibia and see if they have any potential projects we can assist with
Build better relationships with potential charities
Contacts/partners- It is really important to start to make contact with people in Namibia and North Carolina and learn about what organizations are already doing. Maybe from this we will be able to begin to pick a project based off of the work that potential partners are already doing.

Posted in Class of 2017-Namibia, Class Résumés | Leave a comment

2017s: Week 2

After getting settled into the spring semester, we are excited about where we are headed as Pericleans! The newest addition to our classroom dynamic is  committees. Our committees are: events, grant-writing, alumni relations, social media, steering committee, social, and the “committee on committees.” We started out class giving brief updates on the work all the committees are doing. While we have yet to make significant progress on anything because the semester has just begun, we had plenty of great ideas to share.

A few committee highlights include:

  • Planning for the 2018 Induction Ceremony
  • Brainstorming ways to connect with alumni, including the creation of a Periclean LinkedIn account
  • Methods of advertising Periclean, particularly to first-year students
  • Creating a weekly update email
  • Creating a list of relevant cultural events to attend
  • Developing a mentor/mentee program between the 2017 and 2018 classes

We finished up our class by discussing a possible focus for our group. At the end of last semester, it seemed as if the general consensus was to work with child headed households and see if we could create a project from there. However, after brainstorming in small groups, it seems as though we are collectively leaning towards looking for a target community or region in Namibia before making other decisions.

Overall, we are extremely happy with the progress that we have made in only two weeks. The division of committees is an organized and helpful addition to our classroom environment. Stay updated for more progress on our project ideas and future fundraising events!

Posted in Class of 2017-Namibia | Leave a comment

2016’s: balls are rolling.

p1 p3

  • Revisions to the syllabus were made adding a more focused writing component for the semester to be done with accountability partners.
  • Accountability duos will be responsible for posting weekly news report on the Facebook account.
  • Who are our partners (LUPE, H4HC, Honduras Summit, and Business Summit) and what do those relationships look like?
  • Broke into groups to define those partnerships and make clear initiatives for each partnership.
  • Will be finalizing and reporting to the group next week. Balls are rolling.
  • Great ideas and vibes were flowing:)
Posted in Class of 2016: Honduras, Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment