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This Week’s Classes: Class of 2017

This week, our class began presenting on the various topics that we have been researching for the past month. The first group to present focused on the culture of Namibia. We heard a wide variety of interesting facts, as well as the history of the different tribes in Namibia. I think that it is so interesting that there is a ¼ chance that each one of us is a descendent of a Namibian tribe! Thanks for all of those interesting facts, culture team! It’s really important that our class understands and respects the culture of Namibia, and I definitely feel well informed after that presentation!

On wednesday, the government and politics group presented! It was very clear that each person in this group has a passion for this topic. The Namibian government is very different from the United States, and this group also did a great job of informing the class on the most important facts that we should have a good understanding of. This group focused on international relations, the poverty and wealth gap, environmental and social policies, as well as the history and how the variety of political parties came to be. This presentation, without a doubt, helped our class better understand the history of the country! We can’t wait to hear more from the other groups!

We  also go the opportunity to hear from Professor Heidi Frontoni who teaches in the  African American Studies department and was the mentor for the Periclean Scholars  Ghana class of 2010. She gave us amazing insight of how we should approach our project and set our future goals. She advised us not to focus on the rockstar topics that we cannot get our hands around such as HIV/AIDS orphans, because we will not be able to make a difference in that sort of area. She said that it would be beneficial to focus on something simple and manageable and set clear goals and strive towards meeting benchmarks to reach them. She highly recommended that we make a 3 year plan individually and as a class, to help us stay on track, and to help us see where we would like to end up. Because Professor Frontoni’s class was so successful, we should take her advice to heart and start to set manageable goals.

 

-Katie and Melanie

 

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Conversation with J, author of Letters Left Unsent on 10-22-14

Conversation with J, author of Letters Left Unsent, from 4:00-5:00pm on 10-22-14

[He mentioned in that we may also be interested in another interview about the book that can be found here.  Below questions in bold with summarized answers following.  Thanks to Professor Post for these notes!]


Question about short term break trips. Take them for what they are. Learning experiences instead of going to help a community.

Big picture observation?  The NGO community has been educating incorrectly for the past 40 years. They need to bite the bullet and share the complicated story instead of just sharing bullet points. There are a lot of people who would be interested in understanding the entire story, even though it’s complicated.

How do you vet local NGOs? How do you tell the good from the bad? Some common sense. Do your research. Longevity is a common sign of competence. Trust has to be earned. Do they follow through? Ask the beneficiary community what their experience is. NOT an easy thing to do. Takes years to build relationships. Local partner vetting is going to become even more important as the aid work lives up to the fact that the best people to do aid and development work are very often local, not expat workers.

What questions do locals ask you who want to partner with you? They want confirmation to know you are who you say you are.

Preparation for people going abroad: Read about the place, know your limitations, have clear expectations of what individual contributions will be, know your purpose in the context of the larger picture

How do we transform bad aid?  Where does it start? With individual aid workers not letting employers off the hook. Humanitarian accountability. Making sure there are people on staff doing the right paperwork, making frequent visits.  The problems are endemic, structural and universal but can and must be addressed by rank and file workers at every level, that is from the bottle up.

What is the appropriate balance between education and doing aid? There is no set career path in the aid industry or certain steps. It is very vague. Now there are more and more people who are getting their masters to get into aid work. He has had a lot of experiences with locals pushing back when he brings young people without a lot of experience.

How do I put myself in the position to be ready for this career? Remember to think of the big picture. It’s not a bunch of exciting FB posts. It’s more about writing requests for money and being in the background.

How did you choose the particular blog posts to include in the book? Took out some personal things about family.

How has social media and ability to communicate changed how things are done in the aid world? Has helped improve family life. Can be gone 3 months and still begin contact with family. Costs have changed. Don’t have to budget as much to communicate bc can use Skype for free. Social media has changed access to information.

 

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Post Fall Break Update

This week due to Fall Break, we only met for class on Wednesday. However, a lot was accomplished during this time as people took advantage of the free time to learn about Namibia and post to our Moodle discussion board. The discussion board and news forum are incorporated in our curriculum and serve as assignments that keep us constantly paying attention to and thinking about Namibia. It is becoming clear that Periclean Scholars requires a lot of learning outside of class.

In class on Wednesday we addressed Periclean Cards, and we are happy to announce that we have them for sale. Talk to any member of the class of 2017 to purchase one for five dollars. The Periclean Card is a wallet-sized card that offers discounts at a number of local establishments. The class of 2017 is excited to start it’s first fundraiser and many sales have already been made! We also discussed the Homecoming tailgate this Saturday. A lot of the class is planning on attending, and it will be a great opportunity for us to connect with upperclass Periclean Scholars and alumni. We briefly discussed the progress of our elevator speech, especially logistics. Afterwards, we split into our separate research groups.

Next week we look forward to hearing from our classmates as they present their findings in their separate research groups from a variety of topics regarding Namibia. From government, culture, environment and economy the students have been hard at work learning about their topic and preparing to teach the rest of the class. These projects are key to achieving our goals of learning about Namibia, narrowing our focus, and preparing us to make conscious decisions in the future.

 

Susan Reynolds and Kendra Sterneck

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Gay and Transgender Rights in Namibia

Yesterday, during class, I was speaking to Carol about the video, How Namibia’s Leader Turned into it’s oppressor, and just the shock that I was in because of it.  Of course I have heard of the homophobic views and even laws in African countries but for some reason, when I found out that a lot of Namibians in government had homophobic views, I was disappointed.  I didn’t mean to be disappointed, I just thought that things may be different for a country that fought so long for their freedom. What shocked me the most was the blatancy of the president of Namibia, Sam Nujoma’s, hatred for homosexuals in his speeches. One thing that did intrigue my attention is that, in 2001, during the most oppressive times for those who considered themselves homosexuals, Namibia had their first gay pride parade. And nobody was arrested or injured which made this parade even more of a success! It took one person to speak out on the hate speeches for an army of supporters to come out and march along with them. Now, in 2014, there is still tension when talking about gay rights in Namibia.

Often times politics try and put gay rights in the same umbrella as transgender right. An article in the The Namibian titled, Transgender individuals struggle to access health facilities, discusses the trials and tribulations citizens who identify as transgender endure on a consistent basis. The author noted that, “Transgender people are not well received in the public health sector. There is still a lot of prejudice going on,” says Eiseb, who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 30” (Tjihenuna). In addition, identification as transgender or gay is very much so frowned upon in Namibia. There are no laws to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, and transgender people. Not only do these individuals experience maltreatment they also are actively destructed by the Namibian government. The author stated, “Director of Rights not Rescue, Nicodemus Aochamub, who has been very vocal about the rights of the transgender community in Namibia says that Lesbian, Gay Bi-sexual and Transsexual (LGBT) people will continue to be persecuted in Namibia, unless the anti-homosexuality laws are revisited” (Tjihununa). Both LGBT and transgender rights are important sects of modern day societies which makes it even more important for political figures and citizens to respect. Now, reflecting on this, I ask the question, what can we, as Periclean Scholars, do to help this situation from escalating? Gay and transgender rights must be discussed. That is why Devon and I chose to bring up this topic to get everyone who is reading this thinking about it.

                                             Works Cited

Tjihenuna, Theresia T. “Transgender Individuals Struggle to Access Health Facilities.” The Namibian. CEIT Development Namibia, 11 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.

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Visit from Suyapa

We had the pleasure of talking with Suyapa at our class on Tuesday. We had a really good conversation with her, about the work she does in the local communities, as well as her personal experiences which have shaped her generosity today. Suyapa hosts spanish classes for children (between the ages of 7-16) on saturday mornings to learn the mechanics of spanish. She started this program because she noticed in our community that children with spanish as their predominant language struggled to read and write it because it wasn’t being taught in schools.  With this program in mind, we are going to have members of our class attend a saturday session and see if we could be helpful in any way! We are looking into volunteering to help the children strengthen their spanish writing/reading skills, as well as possibly teaching the families english!

We also talked to Suyapa about LUPE (Latinos Unidos Promoviendo la Esperanza).  LUPE is an organization that seeks out to strengthen the Latin American community in our area.  They offer various educational sessions that families can attend. One of the pivotal focus points of LUPE is education about nutrition, which Suyapa is very passionate about.

Here are some links for more information about LUPE, it’s a great organization and we encourage you all to check them out!

https://www.facebook.com/lupenc and http://www.lupe-nc.org/

 

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Class of 2017 Update: A Productive Week

This week, Sarah Reynolds and I thought it would be important to highlight everything we have accomplished this week because we both felt this was one of our more productive weeks since we began this year!

On Monday, we broke up into small groups and discussed our own progress and when we all thought the project should be due. After each group discussed their own topics and how we wanted to eventually present it to the class, the class got back together and we agreed on when we will start presenting our information. Our group work took most of the class time, which was very helpful because we feel that every group has made significant organizational strides which will really make these projects useful references for later on in the year!

On Wednesday, we heard from Jamie Smedsmo who was in the Peace Corps in Namibia.  She shared pictures, experiences, and thoughts from her time there as a teacher.  Seeing recent pictures and hearing about first-hand issues she observed allowed us to think more about all the many different issues we can focus on in Namibia. She also shared with us cultural and societal aspects that none of us had heard yet or might not have been able to find otherwise! For example, she emphasized the importance of not using your left hand to when greeting or interacting with others because that hand it considered “unclean.”  Also, she briefly discussed taboo topics and typical situations we might find ourselves in when we first arrive.  We thought this was VERY productive because we were able to ask any questions that we had, which actually helped direct our small group research.   She also taught us how to greet and respond to a greeting in one of the major tribe languages. Sarah and I agreed that being able to hear these facts and stories from someone is so much more  enjoyable and beneficial than reading facts on the computer or textbook. Her visit, along with previous conversations with Dr. Arcaro and Anita has made the Class of 2017 realize that connecting with those who live in Namibia and those who have been is very important to perspective and approach for the next couple of years.

Also on Wednesday we discussed out Class Video/Elevator Video.  We have been watching other Periclean videos and we also watched a video not pertaining to Periclean so that we look at all the different ways to send a visual message.  We decided on a plan for the video, but we still have to craft the message.  Cam and Oly are leading this charge because of their technological experience, but the entire class is collaborating on the overall vision.  We are very excited on having a powerful message that not only explains the attitude of our class as we begin to learn about Namibia, but also a message that captures the goals and spirit of the Periclean Scholars Program.

Lastly, the Class of 2017 has been discussing Samantha White’s visit at the end of October for Celebrating Periclean.  Samantha White was a Class of 2006 Periclean Scholar who also went to Namibia. Many Pericleans have articulated the importance of speaking with her during her visit to get a perspective from a previous Periclean, a perspective we have not listened to yet! Next week, we will order t-shirts from Namibia, continue to work on our group projects, and work on our Class Video that will be shown at Celebrating Periclean at the end of October! Overall the Class of 2017 is busy and eager to learn more about our country, Namibia!

Mary Frances Foster and Sarah Reynolds

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Update from the 2016s

The class of 2016 had a low key class today and that was probably for the best. Lately, there has been a lot of action from us, and there are a lot of Periclean events in the near future. Therefore, spending today talking and planning was time well spent.

Topics of conversation included discussing our local partner options, coming up with questions to ask of our abroad partners, talking on how to best build relationships with the other Periclean classes, ways to better gain knowledge helpful to our goals, and upcoming events on the Periclean calendar.

Next class, a member of the local community, Suyapa, who we have partnered with in the past is coming to talk to us for an hour. We will be discussing our options for local partnerships. Finding an appropriate domestic partner that is feasible to work with is important to us, so the class is looking forward to speaking with her.

 

 

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2016 Class Update

Over the past two weeks, the class has been reading Letters Left Unsent by author J. In preparation for class we answered a list of questions to begin thinking about the information in the book, and how it applies to us as individuals, and more importantly to the Periclean Scholars program. One action point that came out of this discussion was to learn more about non-western aid, because all of the books we’ve read and projects we’ve studied have come from western-minded people. The most important portion of the talk was discussing how we could use the advice and knowledge that J. offers on international aid to be smart about making decisions for our future goals.

This week we also decided which committees would remain in place this semester, and what the best way is to keep abreast of all of the long term and more immediate work for the class. We finalized the decision to have three umbrella committees: the money committee, events committee, and steering committee. The money committee will include both the former finance and fundraising committees. The events committee will split up into task forces for specific events when the need arises. The steering committee remains the same, with two representatives of the class acting as liaisons between the pan-Periclean steering committee and the class. This new structure, which we decided was best for this semester, will help us more efficiently use our time, and maximize class time.

An important part of the new syllabus revisions is the idea of accountability partners or groups within the class. This will give us more ownership over our work and help us hold each other to high standards academically and otherwise in our work. An example of how we plan to implement this is having discussion groups for books and other academic work to share perspectives readings and documentaries.

Our last big discussion for the week also related to the syllabus and how we plan to structure it this semester. It was decided that we would keep a similar syllabus to the past semester, updating the goals and objectives, expectations of the students, those not enrolled in the class, and those studying abroad. Overall it was a very productive week, and we made some important decisions on how we are going to organize ourselves this semester.

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From the Director

From the Director

All Pericleans,

Many important items:

1.  I am preparing now for the annual Director’s meeting of all 29 Periclean colleges and universities that takes place next week at Carlton College in (brrr) Minnesota.  I will be updating all there on the progress of our program and, as usual, there is so much positive to talk about.  Thanks for helping making this a model program!

2.  Celebrating Periclean Scholars will take place on Wednesday, October 29th from 6-8 PM in Yeager Recital Hall.  The program will include updates from all three Classes, a state of the program update from the director, screening of the “elevator speech” videos from all three Classes and, lastly and most excitingly, Samantha White, Periclean ’06, will be our featured alumni speaker. Please put this date in your calendar!  This event is open to all members of the Class of 2018 so if you know some first year students that be a fit with Periclean Scholars please invite them to come.

3.  The information on the “Elevator Speech” video project is attached.  See this for more details or call me if you have any questions.

4.  I highly recommend that all Pericleans read  Bearing Witness: Seeing as a Form of Service by Debora Dunn, a communications faculty member at Westmont College.  I believe she captures the spirit of Periclean in this essay and that her words could be a point of departure for additional reflection on your own Class partnerships.

5.  J, the author of Letters Left Unsent – EDUCATIONAL USE ONLYis able to Skype into a discussion session -open to all- about the content of his book and I have tentatively scheduled October 22nd at 4:00 for this event.  Please let me know if you would like to moderate this discussion.

6.  Homecoming will be here soon.  Periclean Scholars will have a game day tailgate tent from 11:00-1:00 (exact location TBA) and you are all invited.  This would be a greater chance for you to connect with some Pericleans who came before you!

7.  Also on homecoming Saturday from 10:00-11:00 in GC 202 there will be a board meeting of the Periclean Foundation, a 501c3 organization created by the Class of 2012.  All current Pericleans are welcome to attend ex officio.

8.  Lastly, thank your Mentor again and continually.  She/he is giving you, our program and the entire university a massive gift by devoting their time and energies to your Class.

All the best and have a great fin de semana.

Tom Arcaro, Director

 

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Groups, Functionality, Tee-shirts and Other Things…

On Monday, we spent the first half of the class discussing what we had done last week while Carol was away. After giving her the 4-1-1, we picked the categories we would be working on for our midterm project. We started out with about 16 categories on the board including: politics, position within the international community, culture, environment, economy, education, history, human rights, etc. Realizing that the discussion over which topics to pick was taking longer than expected, Carol and the rest of the class decided that we needed to just take a vote on which 4 or 5 categories we would run with for the semester.

Our goal for Monday was to try and place everyone into a group so that we could have start working on the research component of our upcoming presentations. Luckily, we accomplished this goal and divided up into 5 groups.

This class got Ryan and I thinking about how we function as a group. Do we need to work on how well we work together? Is the way we make decisions the right way to go about it? Or should we be talking to Carol about a new way to make decisions in a quicker and more effective manner? Just some food for thought.

On Wednesday we had a Lumen Prize committee member, Dr. Lucinda Austin, and Sarah Vaughan, a Lumen prize winner, come to inform our class about the Lumen, a funded opportunity for students to conduct scholarly research.

We also discussed our Periclean tee shirt design again. We wanted to show Carol our design and confirm that it was “okay” with everyone. In addition to revisiting the tee shirt idea, we also revisited our discussion about the class structure.

Carol announced that in order to help speed up our class decision-making process, from now on we will be having half an hour timed discussions before the conversation is tabled. Carol also implemented the “rule” that once someone makes a point, they are not allowed to restate the same point until after everyone has spoken. Hopefully these two “rules” will help speed up our decision/ collaboration processes.

We then moved on to talk about the groups that we had set during Monday’s class period. As a class, we went over the basics of what each group would be researching and came to the conclusion that there would be some overlap amongst the groups.

After making sure that everyone approved each of the groups criteria, we took a class vote on who would be our Periclean Class speakers and began to spit ball ideas about our elevator video, which Oly and Cam will be the point people of. So, if anyone has any ideas/ comments make sure you notify them! Lastly, shout out to Devon for receiving the job at Smitty’s! We will definitely come see you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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