Elon Periclean Scholars

This past week… (3/17)

This past week the class of 2017 made a lot of goals for the upcoming semester. We are all hoping to continue our learning of Namibia and find contacts as well as a potential project. In order to keep us on track, we created accountability partners within our own class. Each pair is responsible for keeping each other in check, ensuring that we continue to move forward on developing a project. We are continuing our committee work by having scheduled weekly meetings outside of class and also began creating ideas for fundraisers as well as delving into the plans for the upcoming induction of the class of 2018. Additionally, we made a plan for us all to share potential focus ideas or contacts with each other by the end of spring break with a hope of starting to narrow in on our focus. Till then, happy spring!

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2016’s Grant Writing Workshop

IMG_0445 IMG_0444

Dr. Kurt Moore: Grant Writing Workshop

Summary: We were able to learn all about the grant finding and writing process. This is great for our domestic projects (LUPE and Sustainable Business Summit) and for our abroad projects (Hope For Honduran Children).

 

Notes:

  1. General Announcements
  • Need people for Spanish lessons over spring break
  • Meeting with Francois (exchange program vs. apply as Elon student)
    • meeting with Paul Geis and Admissions
  • 31st Immigration Talk (Juliana)
  • Cookies to gogo April 8th
  • Mission statement has been revised
  • Van from Elon to LUPE

2. Grant Writing Workshop

  • buy a space (LUPE) = capital grant
  • we might want to try foreign
  • 75% donated comes from individuals
  • government call for proposals on what they have budgeted
  • apply through Honduras embassy, H4HC would apply for the grant from the Honduran government
  • do your research and make sure you are a fit
  • Private Foundations -> look locally for LUPE (NC community Foundation/Greater Greensboro Community Foundation)
  • Corporate Gifts In-Kind -> companies give supplies rather than money
  • Transition home computers -> go to manufactures for that
  • How to find these foundations? direction connection is best
  • look at foundation directories on powerpoint; contact to use Elon’s subscription to these directories
  • go to hospital/local places and see where this funding is coming from
  • look at organizations that are doing similar work
  • think out of the box!!!
  • show funders that you are sustainable
  • have a leader for each grant?
  • one person writes it . . . so it flows well
  • make sure to write the summary last
  • show off the successes of your organization, why YOU???
  • address whether or not you will use outside consultant
  • you can put money to your volunteer hours -> put in annual figure
    • this is money we are bringing to the table
  • Ask Dr. Moore for attachments that we need
  • Sponsorships (getting equipment)
  • sponsors wants visibility
  • Dr. Moore can research foundations to see if they are a good fit

 

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Slacktivism?

 

Slacktivism?


This is a spin off post to the one I did on “voluntourism” as I continue the process of reflecting on what doing  “good” in this world means.


saviors and survivors“In contrast to those who suggest that we act as soon as the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before the whistle blows we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live — and act. Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.” (p. 6)  Mahmood Mamdani in Saviors and Survivors:  Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror (2009)

 

 

Expanding the definition
The common use of the term “slacktivism” is of fairly recent origin, and the most common definition is ‘action taken via the Internet in support of some social cause but requiring little effort.’  There has been some interesting research on the term and broad coverage in the online press.  One of the major questions asked is can slacktivism lead to activism.

Good question, that.

There is no lack of clarity that it is a pejorative term, unlike the more neutral (for the most part) term ‘voluntourism.’  My definition of slacktivism is a bit broader and includes Internet based action, of course, but also includes behaviors in daily life such as buying a pair of Tom’s shoes and claiming oneself as an activist.

In an interview for a story that appeared in the student magazine The Edge I referred to some of the Elon students participating in the annual Elonthon fundraiser as ‘slacktivists.’  That generalization is clearly not true for everyone involved, and I know that the key organizers do their level best to thoroughly vet the partnering organizations.  That said, there are many who participate in the event that I had in mind when making the comment.  In reaction to The Edge story one of the past organizers contacted me via email.  Here is, in part, what she said, “Majority of students who come to Elonthon for the Greek “points” likely get very little out of it, and while I wish I could make all of them serve others from an authentic, compassionate place, that’s sadly the sleepy way they float through life. What our exec board does try to do is put them in a place that will create an inner shift, while also making at least a small impact.”  No one wants to have a pejorative term applied to them or to any activities or organizations to which they are connected.  The reality is that in the case of some behaviors the label “slacktivist” seems to fit.

Pericleans as “slacktivists?”
Year after year the Periclean Scholars program is fortunate to attract from among the first year class some of the most dedicated and passionate students at Elon.  The women and men who get inducted into this program typically have long histories of service work through their churches, high schools, athletic teams and community civic organizations (Boy and Girl Scouts, for example).  Many (most?) of these new inductees see the Periclean Scholars program as an extension of work they have been doing in many cases for years.

One of the main goals of our program is to have Periclean Scholars -both individually and as a Class-  ceaselessly probe deeper and deeper into the nature of aid and development work in general and partnering in particular, constantly learning how to mindfully differentiate between partnering and patronizing, between “good” and “bad” aid.  In previous posts I have discussed a wide array of ideas and perspectives on this topic, most recently posting on “voluntourism.”

This winter term I taught SOC 370 Being and Becoming a Global Citizen. I developed this course four years ago and it has allowed me not only the luxury of reading and then teaching from some very seminal works in this area. Perhaps even more importantly I get to read the thoughts of the scores of students whom I have had read and respond to this material.  The content we cover in this class is a direct outgrowth of the questions raised by the very existence of the Periclean Scholars program whose overall goal is to put into action the part of the Elon University Mission statement which says, “We integrate learning across the disciplines and put knowledge into practice, thus preparing students to be global citizens logowoborder
and informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.”

The video below was created by Dawson Nicholson and Laura Orr, students in SOC 370 Being and Becoming a Global Citizen this past January term.  Both are members of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2016.  What they produced was in response to the charge to look more critically themselves and at Elon students in general with regard to their activism.  I think the message of this video is one that should be heard by many. It reflects my broader definition of “slacktivism.”.

 

Final thoughts
It is the responsibility of everyone connected with our program -Pericleans past and present, Mentors, and Director and Associate Director- to continue the “process of reflecting on what doing  ‘good’ in this world means.” Never are good intentions alone sufficient, and quick, un-researched “feel good” actions are the antithesis of what it means to be a Periclean Scholar.

Finally, those connected with our program need to constantly embrace the responsibility to be a positive influence in this regard to friends, family and others, ever passing on the lessons we have learned as our program has developed and deepened.


 

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Addressing relational poverty

Addressing relational poverty

Pericleans -alumni and current- have a responsibility to ceaselessly increase their knowledge about global social issues not only specific to their country of focus but as well about those impacting all humanity.

One of the of the issues that cuts across all nations of the world is that of poverty.

For those of you who are not yet familiar with the term “relational poverty” (or ‘RP’ as some are calling it) I strongly encourage you to visit this informational web site.  After exploring this site your Class might consider discussing this concept and looking into the sponsorship possibilities.  You might even want to take the screening test yourself.

Below is a one of the sad stories you will see on this web site.  Be prepared for an emotional journey.

map-on

Elon University is located in the Far West.

 

 

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Steering Committee Meeting Notes (3/12/15)

Steering Committee Meeting Notes (3/12/15)

1). Reports from classes

  • 15’s
    • Monthly munchies: March 18th 8-11
    • Fundraiser with Pelicans (need a place)
    • 5K plans being discussed

      FullSizeRender

      The Steering Committee sharing updates with each other and showing remarkable tolerance to the demand to “get a picture” from that director dude.

    •  Graduation Stoles: still in the works
    • Class sustainability: creating a club at Elon
    • Partner was featured in documentary; Library is ordering this -> maybe we can share this to campus
  • 16’s
    • Grant writing class next Tuesday
    • Cookies to gogo April 8th
    • Good vibes from partners
    • LUPE meeting went well
    • English lessons continue
  • 17’s
    • Accountability representatives
    • Mission Statement and email template revisions
    • New contacts:)  Leonard Shikololo in the north of Namibia

2). Pan-Periclean Updates

  • Handbook -> physical copy by induction (1st draft) but updated every year
  • Induction: Periclean of the year (will be announced at induction) Let Arcaro know as soon as it is decided.

3). Director Updates

  • Chiapas
    • can’t send anyone down without fac/staff leadership
    • Need a way to decide who goes on the trip if it happens.  We need a faculty/staff person to go
  • Search
    • Susie and Kelsey on search committee for assistant director
    • Ad goes out next Monday -> will proceed from there
  • Periclean Foundation
    • successor of Periclean alumni foundation (2012)
    • 12’s Franklin Project Initiative -> pathways of service for year after graduation
    • Have a Elon fellow for your class to continue your project?

4). Random Notes:

  • make sure to post your notes on the blog after each class meeting
  • make sure to categorize your notes and use headings and pictures!
  • Core 455: Start now to construct; needs to have deliverables
  • money for stoles comes from pan-periclean; think ahead for this
  • steering committee blog post in  Periclean Book
  • buttons at induction (perhaps “Peace, Love, Periclean” if we’re lucky)!!!

 

 

 

 

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Class of 2012: Throwback Thursday

Just sayin’

2012's by fountain

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Moving Forward

This week, we started this week’s class as we do every week going over progress that we have made and work that is still left to be done. Kelsey started our class off on an exciting note, announcing that our website is up and running (you can check it out at pericleanscholars2017.weebly.com). This website will help us share our mission and goals with potential partners and give others a way to contact us. The importance of meeting people and making connections was emphasized when Kendra announced that she has met a former activist who lives in Asheville and worked in Namibia for 2.5 years. We are looking forward to gaining information from her experiences and making future connections such as these. Then the class moved on to awareness and fundraising for Periclean. We are lucky to have Claire available to create Profit Shares, because we know we will start our fundraising efforts soon. Upcoming on the calendar, we are looking forward to the Elon Volunteers Aware Fair and Rising Phoenix Weekend where we can connect with students. Speaking of talking to students and raising awareness, an information session was held on March 5 for first-years who are interested in applying for Periclean Scholars Class of 2018. We were excited to see a good amount of students show up and show their interest and excitement for the program.

Then Sarah got us into the mindset of potential projects by presenting on topics she is very knowledgeable about, which are Drought, Climate Change, and Food Insecurity. With a short presentation, Sarah showed us the desperateness of the situation and made us think about ways we can potentially help. The class acknowledged when thinking about a project, we need to get in contact with alumni and community members in Namibia, so we have a good understanding of the situation and the community’s needs.

We are now questioning and discussing how we want to approach the project: whether we approach a community or organization first or we select a topic and follow that up with finding a community. This is an ongoing discussion, that will become clearer as we learn more from our contacts that we are reaching out to. By next week, we hope to make contact with influential community members in and out of Namibia.

We are excited for the upcoming weeks as we begin to create connections in Namibia!

 

Kendra and Elli

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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
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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?'”


 [Note:  This is an extension of an earlier post where I suggested we deepen our understanding of what it means to be a Periclean Scholar.]


 

Some thoughts about voluntourism

First, a definition
The usage of this term has increased exponentially in the last half decade and, for many, it carries 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 Dwight D. Eisenhower entitled “The Military-Industial Complex“).

Cole’s 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

slacktivism‘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 points 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 than ‘salespeople for the middle class American way of life’?  This idea deserves more in depth exploration, and Daniel Dennett presents us with the fairly well articulated concept of ‘dangerous memes.’  In short, the argument goes, you can inoculate against disease viruses but ‘viruses of the mind’ are potentially even more damaging, infecting most dramatically the young [African, for example] children who crowd around the mzungus, their minds not yet fully protected because their cultural learning is still in process.  Richard Dawkins, originator of the term “meme” (in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene), elaborates on the idea of ‘viruses of the mind’ in his 2003 book The Devil’s Chaplin.

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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