Elon Periclean Scholars

Interview with Jill DeLorenzo, Class of 2009

Jill DeLorenzo

Class of 2009

By: Megan Griffin

Jill DeLorenzo moved to the Washington D.C. area after graduation in 2009. She held various positions before having children.  Jill is currently the Marketing and Events Coordinator for a local cafe and is an advocate for breastfeeding families. She recently earned a mention as “Mom of the Year” in Washington FAMILY Magazine.

Jill is the founder of PositiveBreastfeeding.com. Jill has worked passionately toward creating a positive culture regarding international breastfeeding.  

“The goal of the #PositiveBreastfeeding movement is to create and curate positive stories about breastfeeding, bring awareness to laws and legislation, and ensure that the media coverage of breastfeeding is in sync with health organizations’ advice.”

PositiveBreastfeeding.com is a network for breastfeeding mothers and supporters. The online initiative is an opportunity for people to share their positive breastfeeding stories.  Through weekly blog posts, Jill promotes the content of supporting pages and encourages followers to click on positive stories published worldwide that week. The website also encourages the global breastfeeding community to unite and fill the media with positive stories.  Jill started this initiative immediately after the Nurse-In at the Today Show, because she wanted to do something about the influx of breastfeeding being portrayed negatively on all media platforms.

“People are clicking on sensationalized, negative articles about breastfeeding online. Television and movies portray breastfeeding as selfish and wrong – or they are not portraying it at all. Many media outlets makes it seem like there is something wrong with breastfeeding even though it’s an important part of motherhood and our international public health.”

Her work for PositiveBreastfeeding.com has earned mentions in Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Normalize Breastfeeding, The Asian Parent, Latched On Mom, Mama’s Milk No Chaser, and more.

Jill organized the Nurse-In at the Today Show in New York, NY as the precursor to Positive Breastfeeding. Two days prior to the Nurse-In, Kathie Lee and Hoda discussed breastfeeding photos on social media and said that sharing these photos is “too much information.” The comments immediately sparked international outrage and Jill launched a petition to NBC to stop shaming and censoring breastfeeding moms. Jill and other supporters congregated in disagreeance on the TODAY Plaza in response to the statement made.

Her passion for breastfeeding stems from a personal experience. She was harassed for breastfeeding her baby in a Gold’s Gym in Virginia by the franchise’s Vice President and Controller. The Owner of the Gold’s Gym franchise defended the harassment by stating that Virginia did not have a law to support the rights of breastfeeding women. At this point, the Commonwealth of Virginia did not have a law saying that a breastfeeding mother was legally protected to feed her baby wherever she needed to. Jill shared her story through social media and word of mouth and caught the attention of local lawmakers in Virginia.

Jill testified at the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee of the House of Delegates in Richmond, Virginia while breastfeeding her youngest child. In her testimony she stated the following:

“I ask that the Virginia General Assembly challenge this notion that our state is a bastion for people who wish to harass and degrade women for feeding their children. Nobody should interfere with a mother feeding her child – no matter how that child is fed – when that mother is in any location where she is authorized to be. I respectfully ask that you take this opportunity to make the harassment that I faced a relic of the past. Please help millions of moms and babies to come who have chosen to provide the very best for their babies while in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

Virginia passed the “Right to Breastfeed” law unanimously!

When I asked about how Periclean may have influenced her response to the harassment, she said:

“When thinking about solutions I incorporated the principles of Periclean. This made my passion more impactful.”

Jill was a part of the Class of 2009. Their Class partnered with Habitat for Humanity-International in Zambia. . Their relationship with Voster Tembo has been sustained since their graduation. His work and their partnership, helped to constitute the Zambian Development Support Foundation. The foundation gives out small business loans to primarily female Habitat homeowners in two villages in Zambia. The work of the Class of 2009 impacted so many lives. Jill continues to impact others with the same tenacity and determination that she had at Elon.

After graduation, Jill continues to be an active member of the Periclean Scholars Program.

“In 2011 I ran the Marine Corps Marathon and raised funds for the Periclean Scholars program.” When I asked why she stays involved, she stated that “the Periclean program really makes an effort to connect the alumni back to the program through the Periclean Foundation.”

Many of the alumni we have spoken to have found value in travelling to the country of focus. Jill said that travel “opens up the eyes to the realities of life in the country you are studying. You learn things that you cannot learn from a textbook when you travel – sights, smells, customs, mannerisms. This helps to understand the true needs of the country.”

Overall, because of her experiences in Periclean, Jill is comfortable with advocating for change.

“If I see something, I am not afraid to speak up. I feel like I can speak up in an articulate way,  I have more confidence because of the program!”

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Preview of Results from Periclean Alumni Survey 2016

In early April 2016, we sent out an email and follow up reminders to 192 Periclean Alumni, we had 107 responses, for a total response rate of 55.7%. In the email was a request to fill out a survey regarding the long-term impact of being a Periclean Scholar. Here is a breakdown of the response rate per class: Class of 2006 — 54%; Class of 2007 — 62%; Class of 2008 — 50%; Class of 2009 — 100%; Class of 2010 — 53%; Class of 2011– 31%; Class of 2012– 56%; Class of 2013—28%; Class of 2014—48%; Class of 2015—46%. The Class of 2009 will be honored at Homecoming 2016 for their response rate of 100%.

The following pie chart is a representation of the number of responses from each class.

pie chart

In response to the question: Please explain if and how being a Periclean Scholar impacted securing your first or current job,

One alumnus commented,

“The Periclean Scholars Program at Elon University was life-changing. It taught me how to really study, explore, and understand concepts, culture, and other countries. It made me set a high standard for myself and reinforced my strong work ethic. It was so motivating to work with a group of people who were as engaged and driven as I am. Pericles took me in a different direction, since I finished my last college class in Namibia, Africa. I decided to give myself a 2nd education and travel the world. I have been working and traveling for the last ten years and it has been an amazing adventure. “

Another alumnus said,

“It helped me see the world in a new way. I’m a public librarian and I serve my community every single day of my life. Periclean Scholars taught me not just to “volunteer” but to “serve.”

Alumni also commented about how Periclean Scholars has influenced their lives. The following are anecdotes from various alumni.

“I am very active in breastfeeding advocacy. A couple months ago, I learned about an opportunity to get involved with a new organization that would be providing critical breastfeeding support to refugees of the war in Syria who were fleeing to Lesvos, Greece. My passion for seeing the world as one nation of humans – which has generated palpable compassion – came from the Periclean program. I put myself in the shoes of the mothers and babies in danger and knew I had to help.”

“Being a Periclean Scholar influenced my decision to study abroad in Ghana, and that experience, combined with years studying Ghana, has certainly changed the perspective with which I look at the world. It has helped me truly see myself as a global citizen and that is the lens through which I look at many aspects of my everyday life and decision- making – the work I do, how I spend my money, how my purchases impact others, etc.”

“Pericles has had a huge impact on my life – the experience I had and the things I learned as a result made me aware very aware of the fact that honorable and effective service – to the communities you are committed to serving – requires a depth of knowledge and due diligence to ensure you are making an impact. Pericles taught me how to ask questions and dig a little deeper to ensure I know where my money is going when I choose to donate, how it is being spent, who benefits from it – it made me concerned about the impact. Years later there are studies of how people can “give well” and be effective in their altruism – Pericles made me aware of that before it became a trending topic. I am more critical of non-profits and more critical of their impact as the organization my cohort supported – Hope for Honduran Children – was one that made us question many things about its management and impact and I take that critical eye into everything that I do.”

We will be following up later this week with a more in depth summary of the results.

 

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Update from Voster Tembo on the Zambian Development Support Foundation

Zambian

FROM THE ZAMBIAN DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT FOUNDATION BOARD       

It is always inspiring to start the New Year with a deep sense of reflection on the achievements and challenges of the previous year and always looking forward to the new chapter of the 10 months ahead of us.

Zambian Development Support Foundation would like to take this moment to thank all the supporters that have continued to see that our operations are a success and to thank the volunteers on the ground who continue to work tirelessly, and to thank the beneficiaries of our loans who have decided to be part of this developmental initiative. We commit to continue providing you with the support that will see the economic transformation of your communities and subsequently households.

To all stakeholders, it is important to know that our work and efforts will transform the communities, as can be seen already from our success stories, and we hope that we will continue working together in this year 2016 and beyond and hoping to see more of the donor visits so that we all share experiences and ideas as we progress.

LOAN DISBURSEMENT

As indicated in the previous report of 31st December 2014, the foundation had at that stage approved disbursement of medium loans payable in 24 weeks and these loan amounts range from ZK1, 500.00 to ZK2, 500.00. These loans were only made available to paid-up clients graduating from small loans of ZK450.00 and ZK1, 000.00 which had a repayment period of 13 weeks.  Medium loans were disbursed to 5 clients with a total amount of ZK8, 500.00 in August 2014.

Of the 5 clients that obtained medium loans, 3 have fully paid back the ZK1,500.00 each obtained at an interest rate of 10% and the two other loans are still struggling to repay back.

[For the benefit of our overseas supporters, ZK1,000.00 was approximately $153.00 US Dollars or €131.00 Euro in January 2015, but by December 2015 (due to currency devaluation) was only worth approximately $90.00 US Dollars or €82.00 Euro.]

A total amount of ZK19,450.00 Kwacha was given out during the year 2015 as small loans of ZK450.00 and ZK1,000.00 Kwacha and of this ZK12,600.00 has been paid back leaving ZK6,850.00 still on the loans books and everyone is on track, except two which obtained medium loans in August 2014.

Further progress was made in the year 2015 to get into partnership with a local pastor (Pastor Francis) in a bid to access a loan from ZDSF so as to increase food production for the community which he serves and his local community school through acquiring of a new water tank that will see more water being pumped into his garden. At the moment, Pastor Francis is running a school for orphans and other impoverished children in Chipulukusu and as part of this scheme he is also feeding many of the children who come to school. With a new water tank, Pastor Francis hopes to greatly increase the number of children he can support. ZDSF would like to assist Pastor Francis to fund this endeavor.

Pastor francis

Pastor Francis in his community garden with the crops used to feed his schoolchildren

SUCCESSES

The 32 clients of ZDSF who had benefitted from loans since the start of 2014 have included some the following businesses;

  1. As reported in the 2014 Annual Report, Rose Mulenga had a very small scale business making cement blocks, but due to lack of capital she could not make sufficient blocks to meet demand from some of her customers. She had three children and three grandchildren depending on her, and she was struggling to survive. With a loan of ZK1,000.00 from ZDSF in February 2014 she was able to buy more raw materials and to expand her production. By September 2015, she was employing four young men to make the blocks and her business had expanded four fold. In August 2015 she obtained another loan amounting to ZK2,500.00 which she used together with some profits coming from her business to buy cement and sand and expand her business to another location. As she had hoped, she has now graduated from the ZDSF loan scheme and is able to continue making and selling blocks from her own resources and she is providing employment in the community.
  1. The story of Caroline Kadawele cannot be told without the intervention of ZDSF in uplifting her business and economic life. In 2014 Caroline Kadawele applied to ZDSF for a loan to grow her Chicken business, but the loan was not granted because she was in a group which was at that time defaulting. After those other members of her group (Enya Chama and Mary Bwalya as reported in the previous report) came back on track and completed paying back their loans, ZDFS approved her loan of ZK1,000.00 in May 2015. From keeping 30 chickens, Caroline was able to grow her business to now keeping 50 chickens which she is now able to sell in the community. As a result of her increased prosperity, she can now send her two young siblings, Moses Kadawele age 13 and Andrew Kadawele age 9, to school. By the end of 2015, Caroline had paid her loan in full and she has now applied to have bigger loan of at least ZK3,000.00 so as enable her to be able to buy blocks and build a chicken house which would be able to accommodate more chickens.

CHALLENGES

Defaulting loans

In the Annual Report of December 2014, it was reported that due to difficult personal circumstances, two loans had during that year gone into default, being those made to Mary Bwalya and to Enaya Chama. We reported at that time that revised terms had been agreed with them and that it was anticipated that the loans would be paid back in full over an extended period of time. We are pleased to report that during 2015 both loans were indeed paid back in full. As a result, all loans which had been made by the Foundation up until the end of 2014 have at this stage been paid back in full. We therefore have a 100% repayment record up to that time.

In 2015, two further loans went into default, but both are now back on track with revised repayment terms, and both borrowers are now financially stable. The two loans concerned are the following:

  1. In May 2013 Jedo Chibale, a married man with 5 children and 2 grandchildren to support, received a loan of ZK450 from ZDSF in order to expand his hardware business which was struggling and in danger of closing down. This loan enabled him to keep his business afloat and was paid back in full. He later went on to obtain another loan of ZK1,000.00 which saw his business expand and it became profitable. Jedo was also able to pay back that loan fully. Due to the increasing demand for bicycle spare parts, which is the biggest mode of transport in the community, Jedo further applied for and received the third loan of ZK2,500.00 in August 2014 which subsequently went into default. Due to unfortunate family circumstances and the loss of his mother, Jedo found himself with additional financial responsibilities and he was not able to pay back his loan within the agreed time. ZDSF engaged with Jedo on the importance of paying back the loan and agreed a revised way forward. An agreement was drafted which clearly stipulated a revised repayment plan and the timelines for repayment. This loan, which had been in default, is now being repaid in accordance with the revised terms and will shortly be paid in full. Jedo’s business is now stable and profitable and with the assistance of the Foundation he has been able to overcome both business difficulties and personal misfortune.
  2. Paul Mwansa had also received a loan of ZK2,500.00 in August 2014 in order to finance his shop which is in the mealie meal (corn meal) business. In October 2014 his loan fell into arrears after Paul had to start taking care of his brother’s medical bills when his ill brother came to live with Paul. Paul’s business also suffered as the currency crisis caused a sharp increase in the wholesale price of the mealie meal which Paul sells, making it difficult for him to continue. Again, after active engagement by members of the Foundation a revised repayment schedule was agreed in September 2015 and Paul’s loan is now being paid back faithfully in accordance with that revised schedule. This was done through a signing of the new contract which clearly states the obligations to complete paying back the loan.

Administration

ZDSF is run on a voluntary basis by the board of Directors and when it was formed two of the board members were stationed in Ndola where the loans are being made. During the course of 2015, both of these board members relocated to other towns far away from Ndola and this left the administration of the project to be coordinated by one board member, Voster Tembo, from Lusaka, which is about 380 kilometres away from Ndola. As a result, and despite periodic visits by Voster Tembo to Ndola during the year, administration was difficult and slow for much of 2015 and this led to a reduction in the amount of work which could be done on the ground compared with 2014. However, in January 2016, one of the board members who had been relocated away from Ndola, (Waveson Hamuchankwi) will be moving back to Ndola and he will take up much of the administration in Ndola again. It is anticipated that the administration of the project in the year 2016 will be much improved as a result and we are looking forward to substantially increasing our lending activities (funding permitting) in the coming year.

Office space

ZDSF has been operating without office space. All local administration is carried out from the home of a volunteer in the community in Chipulukusu, Ndola or, at board level, from the homes of the board members. Whereas this was preferred by the Foundation in order to save incurring administration expenses, it did present other difficulties. Government and official bodies in Zambia frequently require that any foundation/ NGO should have an official physical office address for the purposes of accessing services or obtaining benefits. With an official office, it would improve the profile and ability of the Foundation to expand its activities and in particular it would facilitate;

  1. Easier inspection by government bodies.
  2. Easier to obtain tax incentives and rebates from the Government – especially for the purposes of importations and receipt of donations from outside the country.
  3. Easier to enter into partnerships with other community based initiatives.
  4. Making the administration of the project, and collection of loan repayments easier.

In order to resolve this difficulty, a forty foot steel shipping container has been donated by Irish supporters and friends of the ZDSF and is underway for delivery to Chipulukusu, Ndola in the spring of 2016, for the purpose of being used as an official office. In partnership with Graceland School in Pamodzi, this container will also serve as a community library to increase literacy in the community. Office furniture and books for the library have also been donated by the Irish supporters and will arrive in the container.

It is hoped that by the end of April, the container will be in Zambia and sited in the community where ZDSF operates, to be opened as an office for ZDSF and also a community library.

Currency Devaluation in Zambia

With the increasing loss in value of Copper on the international market, Zambia has seen its currency, the Kwacha, losing more than a third of its value to major international currencies. This has been coupled with internal financial turmoil, increasing electricity and fuel tariffs, continued power outages and increasing inflation. All of this has resulted in an increased cost of doing business due to increased prices for commodities.

ZDSF has not been spared from the national problems and its reserves in Kwacha and the value of loan repayments have lost significant value in the past year. The loans of medium value (2,500.00 ZK) which were worth €327.00 Euro or $382.00 US Dollars in January 2015, were only worth €205.00 Euro or $225.00 US Dollars in December 2015. As a result, even with 100% repayment of loans made, the Foundation’s funds are seriously depleted in value. While international currency fluctuations do not have a direct effect in the local economy, inflation is high and the Kwacha is steadily losing its purchasing power. In the coming months, it is anticipated that the Foundation’s funds will continue to devalue. Further external funding is therefore urgently required.

ZDSF, with the support of its partners, has decided to retain donations which are raised overseas in a Euro account in Ireland which will only be transferred to ZDSF once the funds are ready to be disbursed to borrowers. This will reduce the rate at which the money in the bank will lose value before it is given out. This will be piloted in the coming months and will be periodically reviewed to ensure that this is the best way to go in preserving our resources.

Finances

Pericles Alumni Association of Elon University, North Carolina of the United States of America and donors from the Republic of Ireland continued providing finances to the foundation and during the calendar of 2015 a target to raise $30,000.00 by the end of August 2015 was set. However, this target was not met and so we continue to appeal to our donors and supporters for more funds.

As reported in the 2014 Annual Report, the Foundation is prohibited by Zambian law from taking deposits and so future growth in the size of the fund available for lending will depend entirely on the generosity of our supporters and friends and this is critical for the sustainability of the foundation.

In addition to financial donations, the Foundation is to receive a donation of bicycles and sewing machines from the Irish supporters who are supplying the shipping container in 2016. These items will also be allocated to people who are seeking to establish or grow businesses and will be used for income generating activities to be designed and approved by the board in a similar manner as money loans.

GOALS FOR 2016

The past year has again shown that the ZDSF method of advancing small micro-finance loans is effective in empowering people to start their own businesses, to work for themselves and to lift them and their families out of poverty. The Foundation has lifted 32 individuals and their families out of poverty. It is the immediate goal of ZDSF to now expand its operations to include;

  1. Having its own office space in the shipping container.
  2. Getting into partnerships with similar or complimentary organisations and NGOs with a shared vision.
  3. Open and run a community library.
  4. Make loans to more families – so as to bring relief from poverty to a greater number of people.
  5. Make greater loan amounts – so as to enable the fund to support medium sized businesses which require greater start-up capital than the small business ventures which have been so far supported.
  6. Expand the project to other communities
  7. Provide training in financial management to potential and beneficiary clients to encourage proper financial planning of businesses, structured book-keeping and an appreciation of the core economics of a successful business.
  8. Provide training in skills development and entrepreneurship for youths and women.
  9. To achieve a more robust and efficient management system in order to accelerate the lending and recovery process so as to make better use of the funds available.
  10. Most importantly, more finances are needed with the support of our external donors.

VISION

The Foundation envisions being among the major micro-finance institutions within and outside Ndola in the Copperbelt region of Zambia in the provision of financial services to low income groups within three years. The Foundation is committed to recovering loans in full from its clients. The Foundation is also committed to meeting its obligations to its lifeline donors of continuing to report on the progress of the project.

GOVERNANCE

The retention rate of Board of Directors is at 100%. The continuity of leadership ensures institutional stability, thereby decreasing staff needed to manage the project and reducing on administrative costs. The organization has operated at all times within the laws of Zambia.

In September 2015, the organization received a donation of a mini laptop and a camera from Irish donors for administrative use. Pericles Alumni Association of Elon University, North Carolina of the United States of America, has committed to provide funding to ZDSF for operational costs.

CONCLUSION

ZDSF would like to grow both institutionally and financially and continue to be accountable to its donors. The board of directors believes that the immediate measures that have been decided upon in realigning the management and administration system will be of great help to the foundation. Also, a commitment has been made to issue a detailed report twice a year on the project.

There is great need for access to financial capital for business purposes in Zambia, which in the very short term reduces poverty and permanently improves the lives of target groups. Through concerted effort of ourselves, the community and our donors, we hope to see more communities in Zambia come out of economic poverty. We still urgently require additional funds to increase our financial sustainability and expand our operations and access to these funds will largely determine the rate of success in the coming year.

Thank you for your support and looking forward to working with you in the coming year.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and ZDSF,

Voster Tembo

vostertembo@gmail.com

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Quick Update: 4/12

As of April 12th, 2016, the Periclean class of 2017 has accomplished a lot. However, all that we have accomplished has not come easy. Recently our class has called upon every member to step up our commitment levels. We are realizing that January of 2017 is approaching quicker and quicker, and we still have much to do in terms of planning our conference in Namibia. We also have a lot of fundraising left to do in order to make this conference happen, and, similarly, we still have a lot of progress to make towards completing our local project in Burlington, NC. Although we recognize that we still have a few tasks to complete before January of 2017, I believe we are well on our way to achieving our goals.

In terms of fundraising…

We have planned a silent auction for April 22nd from 4-7pm to help raise money for our conference. Additionally, as of next semester we have decided to take over the Cookies to-go-go Periclean fundraiser to help with funding for our class, so stay tuned and plan to order cookies! We also have made Pura Vida Periclean bracelets to sell in order to help us raise funds. Hopefully all of these fundraising efforts, in conjunction to our Gofundme page and our letter writing campaign, will help us reach our fundraising goals for the semester.

In terms of our local project…

We are still working on the logistics of it all, but we have decided that we want to create something along the lines of a demonstration garden in downtown Burlington, NC. We were hoping to pair this demonstration garden with a donation box for our class, hoping to both raise funds and spread awareness of the issue we are trying to address in Namibia. We are trying to locate a place to put this demonstration garden, but have had difficulties in finding a suitable location equipped with people to help take care of the garden while we are not here (ex. summer vacation or after we graduate). On a more positive note, we also recently went into BSS, a local middle school in Burlington, and taught the students about the Periclean Scholars program at Elon, our goals for our project, and the issue we will be addressing while in Namibia.

In terms of the conference/ documentary…

We have solidified our first speaker for our conference in Namibia! Receiving this news was a big win for our class and gives us more motivation to reach our goals. In addition to hosting a conference, we will also be filming a documentary about our project and the issue to further promote our cause after the conference takes place. We have decided to send a crew of two Pericleans to Namibia this summer to get to work on the documentary and already have a lot of cool ideas floating around about it. I am excited to see what footage comes from this summer adventure and what other progress we can make towards setting up the conference as the semester comes to a close.

Peace, Love, Periclean.

The class of 2017

Posted in Blogs by Pericleans, Class of 2017-Namibia | Leave a comment

Update on Anita Isaacs, partner to the Classes of 2006 & 2017

Update on Anita Isaacs, partner to the Classes of 2006 & 2017

Anita

Anita in her mahongu field this spring.


We have great news about Anita Isaacs, partner of the Class of 2006 and a two time Periclean-in-Residence.  After four years of hard study, internships and a senior project based near her home in Oshakati, on April 14th she received her Batchelor of Social Work from the University of Namibia.  She is now in a position to accept a job through the Ministry of Youth working with HIV positive children in the north.  She will also serve as an unofficial consultant to Namibia’s First Lady on issues related to HIV/AIDS.

She has served as the regional director of Lironga Eparu, an organization that helps people “live positively” with their HIV status.

During her visits to Elon Anita met with and educated the Periclean Scholars as a group, as well as on an individual basis. She had several campus-wide events in which she was a catalyst for conversation and education among Elon University students. Anita had several radio interviews and public speeches on campus, in an attempt to educate and raise awareness among the Elon community. Finally, interviews and filming were conducted with Anita to prepare for a final documentary all about Anita and her story.

Anita’s presence changed lives of the members of Elon’s campus and surrounding community, while experiencing changes to her own life. She took her message and shared her story outside of her country, and beyond her continent.  She developed the Periclean Scholars’ understanding of AIDS in Namibia by providing first hand information from a woman who fights the stigma associated with AIDS in Namibia on a daily basis. Anita’s message affected the Periclean Scholars’ projects and the education shared with others throughout the world and within the United States.

In 2014, Anita posted the following,

“I hope you are doing great in the new year 2014. I always feel proud of being a part of you guys. It has been a wonderful 11years together. Every second I think of you I remember on how I met the Class of 2006. By then I was just another AIDS patient waiting to be added to the Namibian AIDS death statistics. Today I am still living to the fullest. My dream of becoming a grandmother became true, today I am a grandmother of three wonderful grandchildren. To be honest the Class of 2006 saved my life, they put life into my days, not only days into my life. They taught me how to plan for my future. Back in 2003 if you are HIV positive you were regarded as a living dead, living amongst the living. But after my initial meeting with the group led by Dr. Tom Arcaro, it was a blessing for our support group. Today the group have change from being the people with AIDS to healthy people, back to work. We are proud parents, who have grown up children.

I never dreamt of going to University, but today I am in my third year [now a graduate!] at the University of Namibia. Thanks to your on-going moral, physical, and financial support. I am looking forward on meeting with Class of 2017. Continue doing the good and wonderful work you are showing to throughout the World. You need to know that what you are danita isaacs graduationoing have a positive impact on the lives of millions of people Globally.”

Today, Anita is graduated from the University of Namibia.

Anita Isaacs cakeGraduation cake given to Anita by the Periclean Foundation.

Anita is featured in two documentaries, “My Name is Anita” and “You Wake Me Up.”

 

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Interview with John McGreevy

John McGreevy

Class of 2010

By: Megan Griffin

 

IMG_1383John McGreevy is a member of the Periclean Class of 2010, and his Class’ accomplishments were based on the Periclean philosophy that cross-cultural partnerships form a solid foundation for sustainable community development. Their focus while at Elon was “improving access to healthcare and promoting sustainable development in Ghana’s Volta Region through community partnerships, outreach, and education.”

Their Class made possible the construction and staffing of the Kpoeta Community Clinic, with the support of many people in the Ghanaian villages of Kpoeta and Sokode, the Government of Ghana, and partnering agencies, including Heifer International, Johnson & Johnson, and the U.S. Navy. Projects related to the clinic included building a house for the clinic staff, initiating construction on a kindergarten in Sokode, supporting a livestock and beekeeping project in Sokode, and initiating a solar cooker project in the Ghanaian villages of Sokode and Kpoeta. Their Class helped to fund the utilization of specialists in Ghana, including roofers, plumbers, and electricians-these specialists provided services which could not be provided for by community members. The Class also distributed over 500 children’s books to an Elementary School in Abor, Ghana, transported on a U.S. Naval ship. All of their projects were initiated based on the requests of community leaders in Ghana. The members of this Periclean Class all agreed on the importance of listening to local people about the local problems when trying to brainstorm solutions.

Their Class efforts were also impactful in the local community. They hosted talks by experts on development and healthcare in Africa and Ghanaian history. The experts spoke at local schools and churches and on Elon’s campus. These speakers helped to raise awareness about the need to improve access to healthcare in rural areas of Ghana. In 2013, their Class also began to offer scholarships to US students via the organization ScholarCHIPS.

The Periclean Class of 2010 committed to “embrac[ing] lifelong intellectual and personal growth.” In talking to John McGreevy, it was undeniable that he has embraced the importance of his Periclean Class’ pledge.

John graduated from Elon magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Biology. He was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Environmental Studies, was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, and the Biology honor society Beta Beta Beta.  After graduating from Elon, he completed his Masters degree in Anthropology at Colorado State University. In attaining a Masters degree, he was determined to figure out the best way that he could work with people in different countries to produce sustainable, environmental solutions to problems abroad. John then went on to the University of Georgia to work towards a Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation and Anthropology. He explained this Doctorate program as an opportunity to learn about ways to bring together people from different backgrounds to brainstorm and accomplish solutions to global issues.

John found that being a part of Periclean Scholars helped him to realize the importance of establishing an equal partnership in aid. He stated that the idea of both parties learning from one another and benefiting from each other’s efforts is a basic part of human life. This recognition has been a driving force in his career decisions and his efforts in Haiti since graduating from Elon.

IMG_1624

When asked about the importance of Periclean Scholars, he stated that very few things in life are transformative. He said that Dr. Frontani’s insight, as their Class Mentor, helped to change their perspective. She taught them how to work together as a Class, which he said was a transformative experience and changed his outlook on what he wanted to do after graduation. Since then, he has used that experience to collaboratively improve environment and quality of life in Haiti. Periclean helped him figure out how best to work with people in other countries and how to prioritize partnerships.

Since graduation, he has worked with reforestation initiatives and d408302_893116834723_117586057_nifferent nonprofits that do environmental and social work in Haiti. The major initiative that he focuses on now is establishing partnerships between communities in the United States and in Haiti. For example, recently, he gave a presentation in Philadelphia about a partnership between a church in Haiti and a church in Philadelphia. He emphasized the fact that local Haitian people and people in the United States were able to come together and learn from one another-they are valuing each other’s ideas, so it is a two way giving system.  He said that a lot of what he learned in Periclean Scholars is directly implemented into what he is doing now.

While at Elon, John studied human environmental interaction in Haiti. While he was on the ground in Haiti, doing a project on solar energy, the earthquake happened. John said that this experience taught him both about the resilience of the Haitian McGreevy fieldpeople and the way that natural disasters are never purely “natural.” Instead, they are products of social processes like urbanization, colonialism, and associated environmental degradation. Likewise, he noted that the only way to attack such problems is to learn from the people that know the most about Haiti and its environment: its people.

Dr. Frontani’s insight, passion and persistence as a Periclean Mentor shaped the members of the Class of 2010. John remembers the day that Dr. Frontani first interviewed him to be a part of the Periclean Scholars program. He remembers that she asked really good questions about why we wanted to be in the program and what he was looking to provide by being a part of Periclean Scholars. From John’s first interaction with Dr. Frontani, he could tell that she really cared, and as a Mentor, she held everything they did as a class to the utmost importance.

Dr. Frontani was a Mentor that experienced many “firsts” of the program. Their class was the first Periclean class to wear the Periclean stoles at graduation. John said that his is hanging on his mantle at home. He said that being able to wear the stole at graduation culminated their class’ efforts in a tangible way. Since the stole was made with cloth from Ghana, it signified the partnerships their class had worked towards. The stole is now a reminder of everything their class accomplished with the guidance of Dr. Frontani. It is also a constant attachment to Ghanaian culture.

In response to the passing of their remarkable Mentor their Class has all been remarking on what Heidi meant to them, and they all agree that she was really a huge part of the Periclean experience.  John talked on the phone with another scholar from his Class. They talked about the importance of their time at Periclean and what they are doing now. They both realized that they pursued their passions because of Heidi Frontani and her encouragement to work collaboratively to better the world and solve complex problems. Their Class hopes that they will continue to reconnect as a Class, while also maintaining their strong community that Dr. Frontani fostered. In this, they hope to endure the legacy of their Mentor.

Elon’s President Dr. Leo Lambert stated in the school newspaper, The Pendulum, that  “the students she taught and mentored, and the values they carry into this world, are perhaps her greatest legacy.”  John McGreevy is absolutely a part of Dr. Frontani’s legacy.

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Alumni Interview with Khara Bauer

Khara Bauer

Class of 2007

By: Megan Griffin

Khara Bauer is originally from Delaware, since graduation she has moved back to Delaware with her husband and son. She is also expecting her second baby very soon!

At Elon, Khara studied Education, she originally planned to major in Religious Studies, but then realized the power of teaching and being able to utilize a college degree to help others. After graduating in 2007, Khara immediately spent part of her summer in Honduras! She worked with the Medical Brigades and also went to Flor Azul with Karen Godt, founder of Hope for Honduran Children. While in Honduras, she had the opportunity to enhance her Spanish speaking skills in order to communicate better with Hondurans.

She began her teaching career after her experience in Honduras; she first taught third grade and then taught kindergarten for four years. While teaching kindergarten and the third grade, she often had ESL students in her classroom. Through her interactions with the ESL students in her classroom she realized that she adored teaching ESL. She wanted to expand her ESL knowledge, so she decided to go back to school to get her masters. She now works as an ESL teacher in two elementary schools and one middle school. Her passion for teaching translated this past February when Khara was named the Teacher of the Year at Beacon Middle School!

While at Elon, Khara joined Periclean Scholars as a way to link arms with other devoted student-leaders to make a difference in the world. Her Periclean Class spent the majority of their first year researching their country of focus and topic. Khara felt that by the time they got the ball rolling, time had slipped away from them. Rather than focusing on the impact their class had in Honduras, she discussed the impact that their Class had on the program. Their Class enhanced the Periclean Scholars program by laying down the stepping stones for future classes. The Class of 2016 in some ways picked up where they left off and were able to partner with Hope for Honduran Children!

Class of 2007

In reflecting about her involvement in Periclean, Khara recognizes how much time the process of finding the appropriate focus and partners takes, that is why helping future classes is so influential and meaningful.

When asked what the biggest takeaway was from being involved in the Periclean Scholars program, Khara said that it was “the recognition that she was capable of educating others.”

Although she educates others directly in her career, she also shares the ideas and values of Periclean Scholars in her everyday life. She portrays these ideals in things such as gift giving and finding creative ways to spread her own knowledge to friends and family.

“At Christmas time I will donate in someone’s name. At my wedding, instead of having a wedding cake, my husband and I gave out chocolate from Chile and a statement about how much money was donated because we decided to not spend money on a wedding cake.”

With the chocolate, they also handed out information about her experiences in Honduras. I was impressed with this creative idea to spread awareness and contribute financially to something they were so passionate about.

She is excited for the future of the program and encourages others to attend Elon because of the unique opportunity to be involved in an academic and extracurricular service organization.

Khara’s statement (below) while she was in Periclean Scholars at Elon shows how passionate she was, and still is, about the Periclean Scholars program.

“There is not another organization that is better suited to use our available resources, our love, will and enthusiasm to help less fortunate members of our global society. We all want to make a difference for the better, and Pericles makes it happen.”

Class of 2007 Slideshow

 

 

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Alumni Interview with Annie Huth

Annie Huth

Class of 2012

By: Megan Griffin

The other week, I had the privilege of talking to Annie Huth, from the Class of 2012. Annie was the inaugural fellow to participate in a one-year post-graduate position at CRHP.

548597_10100387955526383_1145323819_n

Annie’s postgraduate plans were directly inspired by Periclean.

“My first year after graduation was spent with CHRP thr971041_10100630854479933_1821553647_nough our Class’ fellowship program. I had an amazing year, it was the best thing I could have done! Everything I learned from Periclean, and my experiences through the fellowship program have been a huge part in the way I approach my work.”

She now lives in Saxapahaw and is working with Buckner, a local construction company in Graham. She is the Health and Wellness Director.

“I started their wellness program from the ground up, there was nothing formal in place before my position. Now there is support for the construction workers.” In her position, Annie also leads community outreach efforts. Annie mentioned that she was very surprised when she started working at Buckner. She was shocked by how many of the concepts and models that she learned during her fellowship at CRHP could be applied to her position at Buckner.

“Things like hearing about what people need, looking at the environment, building off of people’s strengths have been a huge part in growing the Buckner wellness program organically. The program’s success depends a lot on employee buy in and acknowledgment of diverse cultural groups.”

When asked about whether or not she thinks their Periclean Class had an impact in India, she said that while the class worked together to accomplish a lot, nothing could have matched what they gained from the experience.

The Class of 2012 was able to refund a project in India and bring it back to life. The first time that Annie was in India, she did a month long internship with the adolescent girls program through CRHP. She then went back to India during winter term her senior year to see the progress of the program.

“Being able to enable them to bring that program back to life, and to work simultaneously with girls here in Burlington [at BHA, their local partner] was our Class’ impact.”

1185585_10100630852933033_1450411027_n

She also talked about the Summit that their Class hosted during their senior year. As a fellow in India, after graduation, she was able to see that their partner was still running the summit and wanted to host another conference. Annie helped with the social media and planning of the conference.

As an undergraduate student and a fellow, Annie also did work with Photovoice. Photovoice is a community photography project that enlists community members to tell their stories.

“I did my undergraduate research on a photovoice project at the Burlington Housing Authority and then did a photovoice project my Senior year Winter Term and again as a fellow with a couple of friends from Elon.”

“These projects played a huge role in cementing some key Periclean values for me such as letting people tell their own stories and identify their own strengths and struggles.”

Annie and I also discussed the importance of traveling. Annie finds so much value in traveling anywhere!

“Just travel in general-to a different state, different country is so important. People are not exactly like you-knowing this is a useful tool in understanding our own cultures, biases, etc. Going to India as a class allowed us to look back at how things are in the United States, and we were able to compare and contrast our valuable experience in India with experiences in the US.”

Annie also discussed the value of traveling to the country of focus as a Periclean.

“Being able to directly see the work our partner was doing was life changing for many of us. We were able to go to India to see the realities of young girls, women and farmers in rural India. We saw firsthand how many hardships they face, but also got to see the beauty in what CRHP was doing for the community. There is nothing like seeing that in person and being able to participate in it.”

Periclean, especially by her junior and senior year was her thing at Elon.

“Periclean classes were what I looked forward to!” She said that being involved with such a passionate and visionary group of people was such a rewarding aspect of the program.

Overall, Periclean to a large extent has made her a more informed global citizen. She looks at the world through a slightly different lens which helps her to respond to situations. She feels that she can respond to situations with more compassion and empathy because she is well informed.

Annie said that “understanding people better has been a big take away from Periclean.”

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Alumni Interview with Katie Hadobas Arms

Katie Hadobas Arms

Class of 2014

By: Megan Griffin

katie

The Class of 2014 consists of passionate students from all different areas of study. Katie Hadobas Arms is one of these passionate members. Their Class’ area of focus is Appalachia, they decided to focus specifically on regions in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. They were the first Periclean Class to have a location in the United States as their focus and they were successful in forging deep and meaningful partnerships with people and organizations in the region. As they studied the region as a Class, they agreed that they would focus on issues related to mining.

They partnered with an individual who helps ex-miners and with a Community Center in the area. The purpose of the Community Center was to break down the barriers between community members with opposing views concerning mountaintop removal (a type of coal mining). The founder of the Community Center recognized that there was a need for community cohesiveness because of the divisiveness around the topic of mountaintop removal.  The Center held dinners and other community events to foster an accepting environment for the entire community. The Class’ other partner, Ron Carson, utilizes his knowledge about the law to ensure that ex-miners, with black lung disease, receive necessary health benefits.

 

The Class of 2014 also partnered with several artists and authors in order to continue raising awareness about issues in Appalachia.  Ann Pancake, one of their partners, is the author of the book Strange as this Weather has Been, which is a story featuring a West Virginian town affected by mountaintop removal. Although it is a fictional story, Pancake talks about real issues in order to draw the reader’s attention to a social problem in the Appalachia region.

Katie said that they were able to partner with several people and organizations because they traveled to their area of focus several times. She also mentioned that it was really meaningful to be able to read about an individual or organization while doing their research at Elon and then to be able to meet them in person. This  was definitely one of the benefits of partnering with a location in the United States.

When I asked about what kind of impact she believed their class had in Appalachia, she said that they made a difference because they approached the task as learners, rather than fixers. This was something that their mentor ingrained in them from the very beginning of their experience as a Class. Katie also referred to the impact the Periclean program had on her and the rest of the people in her Class. Periclean has changed the way she views serving and loving other people. Her ideas about serving and loving others changed after reading Toxic Charity. That change, while in Periclean, has impacted the whole way she approaches her job, what she values, and her recognition of harmful charity/philanthropy.  

Since her Periclean experience was so influential, Katie and her husband have joined a church that values many of the same things as the Periclean Scholars program. As a member of the church, Katie strives to always think critically about how she can help to build a better community. She also does this everyday at Elon through her work with InterVarsity. Her job is to build a community on a college campus. Being able to ask questions and learn about what would benefit the community the most has been a really challenging and rewarding aspect of her position. For example, Katie had the opportunity to ask people if there was any interest of building a Christian community in the Greek system. She had to ask the questions because this was a community that she was somewhat unfamiliar with. Asking questions reminds her of what she learned in Periclean in Central Appalachia, because she was unfamiliar with the community, she and her Class had to examine what the community wanted.

Katie is constantly thinking about what she learned as a Periclean Scholar. Her experience impacts how she makes new friends and family and how she decides to serve her community. One of her favorite things to do is host a pancake breakfast at her house to get to know her neighbors and other members of her community!

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment

Alumni Interview with Jessica Zollinger

Jessica Zollinger

Class of 2012

By: Megan Griffin, 2016

 

28664_397588239677_2702688_n

The other week, I had the privilege of talking to Jessica Zollinger,  from the Periclean class of 2012. Since graduating, she has pursued a graduate degree at the UNC School of Social Work.

Jessica attributes Periclean for a lot of her postgraduate decisions and successes.

When she first started at Elon, she had no idea what she wanted to do or what direction she wanted to follow in her life. Jessica ended up majoring in Human Services and Public Health, which is a decision she directly attributes to Periclean. After graduation, her majors and Periclean led her to UNC Chapel Hill, where she completed a Masters degree in Social Work in 2014. Jessica now works at the Orange County Department of Social Services, where she is an Adoption Social Worker for children in the foster care system.

Jessica said that Periclean was probably the number one most impactful organization that she was involved with at Elon. It was all encompassing because it was an academic and extracurricular organization. One of the Class’ partners, the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) embodied an amazing model of community social work, that was often referenced in Jessica’s graduate program. Specifically, CRHP’s model of doing “with” someone and not “for” them is also a main tenet of the social work profession.

In the CRHP program, “women are chosen from their villages to learn about medical interventions, counseling skills, etc. to take back to their villages and teach their peers.” This model empowers others to serve their communities, instead of telling people what to do and how to do it. Jessica mentioned that the UNC School of Social Work has also partnered with CRHP!

This article discusses the partnership in more detail.

When asked about her travels to India, Jessica said she travelled there in the summer of 2010.

“I mainly worked with the adolescent girls program in order to get a feel for who CRHP was as an organization.”

She stayed at the CRHP campus for three weeks, which gave her an opportunity to get to know the adolescent girls in the program. The program itself invited adolescent girls to the CRHP campus to teach them about empowerment, self-esteem, and various other lessons. Jessica observed that at the beginning of the program,

“The girls  shy at first, but by the end they really came out of their shells.”

30214_401922874677_4545336_n

During her time in India, Jessica also worked with medical teams, learned about water safety and was able to go to the farm at CRHP. The farm was for individuals who have leprosy, HIV/AIDS, etc. and was an unconventional rehabilitation center. The individuals would work on the farm and serve the vegetables on the CRHP campus. After being in India for three weeks, Jessica realized how vast the country is.

“India is so huge, you can be in a super urban area and then very soon after be in a rural area.” This recognition helped to explain the needs of the country to the rest of her class.

Jessica believes that there is so much value in traveling to the country of focus as a Periclean.

“I think it’s really critical in making decisions. Going to India so early on in the process was a huge jumpstart.” She believes that their Class would have had a really hard time thinking about their impact if they hadn’t met their partners in person.

Being involved in Periclean also impacted Jessica’s personal life.

“I grew up in a small midwestern town that was wonderful, but was pretty sheltered. Having this experience and learning about other cultures, religion, government was something that exposed to me the fact that there was a whole world out there. The lens through which I view the world has changed because of Periclean. I now pay more attention to what is going on in the world. The opportunity to focus on global issues for three years has definitely been a huge influence in my life.”

The way she views philanthropy has also changed.

28664_397553269677_857196_nBefore her involvement in Periclean she felt that if she could give money or her time once or twice, then that would be enough.  She now recognizes that real philanthropy is investing in people’s lives over a period of time. “Making a commitment to give your time and finances after vetting the organizations and using this as a platform to educate others is real philanthropy.” Jessica believe that her Class has committed to this by creating the CRHP Fellowship. Her Class really wanted to focus on how their efforts could be sustainable and they seek to do this by having an expectation that each member of the class donate to the Fellowship each month.

 

Posted in Partners-All Classes | Leave a comment