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A Week of Reflection for the 2017s


This has been a week filled with questions, answers, confusion, and steps forward. Coming to the end of the semester is a great point of reflection for our class as we look at how far we’ve come and how much work and potential we still have in our future. On Monday, the class took some time to look back on the semester. We did this through constructing personal and class resumes. Additionally, we created personal and class mission statements and goals. By writing this individually and then coming together and pooling our ideas, we plan to brainstorm and make a cohesive and descriptive sum total of our progression. From guest speakers, planning, organizing, bonding, researching, discussing, imagining, and creating, we dove right in this semester. We also spent sometime this week reflecting on potential organizations that match important causes in Namibia. As a class, child-headed households and sustainable agriculture are issues that were mentioned multiple times. As we discuss more potential organizations and causes, we are coming closer to a clearer vision of what our project will become.

We are finding that understanding one another is a large part of working together as an effective and successful team. As part of our homework for the next week, our class is assigned to get lunch, coffee or just hang out with someone we get to know better. Hopefully with a better understanding of where people are coming from we will be able to identify strengths and move forward gracefully. I think it’s safe to say that we all look forward to a time when we can easily identify our own skills as well as one another’s. We understand that this level of understanding comes with time; afterall, Picasso did not paint the Mona Lisa in one day!

On Wednesday we had the special privilege of engaging and discussing with Steve Mencarini. A visitor from Elon’s LEAD center, we discussed what it means to be a leader and the different types of leading. By stating hypotheticals and discussing how we felt about them, our class learned a lot. Most importantly, we learned how different everyone’s definition of leadership is. That points us to questions like: How does this affect our class? What is my definition of leadership? What kind of leader do I want to be? Mr. Mencarini did an excellent job of pushing our minds in the right direction as we start to grapple with leadership and what it means to us in the context of the Periclean classroom. At the end of the session he looked at Carol and said: “I think I broke them into a million pieces”. Carol responded and said “No, I think they are thinking and their wheels are still turning”. This interaction is almost representative of our stage in our Periclean experience. Our wheels are turning and turning and we’re so ready for the next semester to get the wagon moving!

Cayley Gosnell & Samantha Lubliner

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Celebrate Periclean

Once a year, Pericleans and mentors of all classes come together in an event aptly named Celebrate Periclean. It’s a wonderful opportunity for each cohort to share victories, discoveries, advice, and challenges they’ve faced in the past year. The 17’s playfully described the trials and tribulations of the first semester as Pericleans, while the rest of the audience laughed along and empathized with each frustration. The 16’s shared their recent endeavors into appropriately vetting partners and proudly relayed the successes of their recently hosted Periclean in Residence program. Finally, the 15’s, now a seasoned cohort of bright and hardworking students, sympathized with all the road blocks the other classes had faced while still managing to inspire. In their final year, they have come together and recently hosted an amazing week dedicated to raising awareness for their cause in Haiti, human trafficking, known there as Restavek. While the three classes represent three very different stages of the Periclean experience, many of the speeches rang true with similar themes of hard work, frustration, passion, humility, and curiosity.

No one better knew these experiences than Samantha White, our keynote speaker for the evening. A 2006 alumna of both Elon and the Periclean Scholars program, she truly embodies what it means to be a Periclean in the years following graduation as she went on to work for the Global Health Corps and implement amazing projects in Malawi. Now, she works for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in Seattle,  and it was an incredible honor to listen to her charming and personable advice. She shared perhaps her most salient anecdote when she urged us to “find our pig.” This all made sense when she explained that this came from a story about a woman who had a yard full of pigs that she loved and defended no matter the criticism she received from the community. In other words, Samantha reminded us that we need to cling to our passions. It may not always make sense, and there may be others who don’t agree with us, but so long as we pursue that passion, we can do amazing things.

Sam and her pig

Sam and her pig

As a Periclean herself, she must have known how much we needed to hear that message. It can feel at times that every opportunity eventually turns into a dead end, or that our efforts to create a project often stagnate. However, we must remind ourselves that we joined this program due to our passion for service and global citizenship. The 15’s inspired us to know that no matter how tough the middle years may be, we will emerge with an amazing contribution and a mind filled with new, invaluable knowledge. Soon enough, the 17’s will be up on that stage themselves relating their successes to a new and nervous cohort of 19’s.

From all those involved in the Periclean Scholars program, I want to relate a huge thank you to anyone who had a hand in making this a beautiful and successful evening that truly did celebrate Periclean.

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Class of 2017: Week in Review


The sophomore class is registered and excited to start a second semester! It is hard to believe that we are already a semester into the program! To start of this week, a panel of students from the class of 2016 came to speak to us about their experiences so that we can learn from them. They reflected a lot on the process that they chose to pick their project as well as what they thought they did was really effective in bringing them to the place that they are today.

We also came to the conclusion that we need to start recruiting for the next class of Pericleans.  In addition, we decided to start planning the Induction Ceremony early on. Thanks to the resources from the class of 2016, we should have a template as to how it should be run. We also discussed expanding the mentorship program as the broader we make the mentorship program, the more effective it will be.

After reflecting on a proposal that was made last week, we decided to divide up into different committees to do more specialized work to help ease the decision making and research process. On day two we were able to split up into committees.

We broke apart into groups and discussed potential topic ideas and began to search for potential partners in Namibia and North Carolina. Though we are nowhere near making a decision on a topic, we were able to bounce ideas off of one another and do research about potential partners in Namibia and North Carolina.

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Great story about ’15’s ‘Stand Up for Freedom Week’ in Pendulum

Great story about Stand Up for Freedom Week in Pendulum

From the Pendulum story about the ’15’s benefit concert at West End:

thumb“West End Terrace was transformed into a scene out of “Pitch Perfect” during Stand up for Freedom Week, hosted by the Periclean Scholars Class of 2015. The concert featured Elon University’s a cappella groups, gospel choir and Limelight Music Group artists. Proceeds went to the Restavek Freedom Foundation, whose mission is to end Haiti’s widespread practice of child slavery.”


Here is Georgia Lee, ’15, pitching the concert at College Coffee:

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This Week: Class of 2017

This week was a combination of classmate presentations and listening to a guest speaker. Overall it was a pretty good example of the various things that we are trying to combine, a basic understanding of the different components of Namibia both contemporarily and historically, as well as forming a solid group dynamic with which we can be both effective and efficient.

On Monday two committees presented: Public Health, and Agriculture, Environment, and Geography. The Public Health group’s presentation started with the hot topic of ebola and the preventative methods that the government and health officials are taking. Moving throughout the presentation topics discussed included prevalent diseases, malnutrition, sanitation, access to clean water, maternal and infant mortality, HIV/Aids, mental health, and challenges with access to care to infrastructure. The Agriculture, Environment, and Geography group also presented on a wide variety of issues in Namibia. The presentation started with geography, giving the class an idea of the various deserts, regions, and national parks. Next came a brief description of the climate with which came a discussion on the rain and dry seasons and the impact that drought can have on farming and community health. Part of the obstacle that is rainfall led the group to explain the effects of climate change on agricultural yields. The Agriculture, Environment, and Geography ended with the important topic of wildlife conservation.

By gaining a basic understanding of public health, agriculture, environment, and geography our class will be able to begin generating focus or project ideas in a more informed way. With those two presentations came the conclusion of our presentations of various aspects of Namibia. We look forward to possibly forming new committees to move forward with.

Today, our steering committee started class off with a presentation on what they think our next steps should be. They brought up the idea of having seven different committees, which are as follows: committees on committees, fundraising/grants, alumni relations, media/communications, steering, events, and executive. The executive committee would be a group of the “leaders” of each of the other six committees with our mentor as the head of the executive committee. The steering committee had also talked to one of the 2016s that responded with some positive feedback with what has worked for them. He suggested a vibe watcher (making sure no one gets too heated), a facilitator, an agenda setter, and a secretary.   To conclude their presentation, they gave us a handout and we decided as a class that we would use this committee system as base and further discuss the changes needed in the system.

On Monday, at the very end of class, Carol had us take a personality test from the MyPlan website. Rhonda Kosusko came in today to help us understand our results. She explained what each letter meant and gave us countless handouts about each type of personality. She then divided us into groups of four or five, and had us discuss what we thought was important for people to bring to a group. From the activity, we were able to learn the people value different things, and we all need to be respectful to that. At the end of the class period, Carol had us divide into two groups; one group was the extroverts, and one was the introverts, and then continued to divide with the last three categories. We soon learned that everyone is different, and we can use these differences to our advantage. All in all, the week was successful because we learned more about Namibia, and we learned more about each other.

Elan Schappler and Madi Kennard

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This week: Class of 2016

This week in class we reached the overwhelming feeling that we are more than half way through the semester, and still have so much we want to do. We spent a lot of our time talking about LUPE, what our potential role can be on Saturdays when we go to help out during the Spanish classes, and what our role could be on a larger scale. We are really excited about the prospect of making an impact with a domestic partner, and are continuing to learn more about the organization. We are hoping to have a dinner with the LUPE board, where we will have the opportunity to talk to the board members and to listen to hear more about their goals and hopes for the organization. April went to the board meeting last week, and reported back to us during class with some of what she had heard. It sounds like the organization really wants to grow, as they are seeking funds to create a youth center, purchase a bus or van that would help with transportation to and from classes, and are looking to fund more events. Additionally, they are hoping to learn more about getting IDs for undocumented immigrants, which is supposed to be put in place in Alamance County in January. For now, our goals are to really get to know the members, so some of the class is hoping to attend their “Day of the Dead celebration this Saturday at City Park.

We are currently waiting to hear back from Hope for Honduran Children and Summit in Honduras with the results of our Partnership Review Questionnaire. We are anxiously awaiting their answers, so that we can begin to take steps towards determining what our role can be in working with both organizations. Until we get these back, we are focusing on some other tasks, as our progress with them is dependent on receiving the questionnaire back.

We spent a lot of the class talking about some of our goals for the end of the semester, and hearing about Arianna’s planning for a Summit at Elon next fall. She has come up with some really great ideas about different events that can be held, with an overall goal of bringing an event to Elon’s campus that is more universally appealing, bridging the Business school power/interest with that of humanities and human rights advocacy and sustainability. She is hoping that we can bring in some representatives from companies and businesses that can speak about their experiences working in a sustainable company. By the end of the semester, we hope to have researched companies and come up with a list of potential representatives. Additionally, we really hope to solidify what our goals will be in working with our domestic and Honduran partners. We are making strides in both of these areas, and are hopeful that we will end the semester with an idea of what our project should be.

We look forward to seeing everyone at Celebrate Periclean!

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2014 Elevator videos


2014 Elevator videos

Though technical difficulties made it impossible to screen these at Celebrating Periclean Scholars, here now are the three “elevator speech” videos from the ’15’s, ’16’s and ’17’s.  Enjoy!

Celebrating Periclean Scholars Speech

Written and delivered by Catherine Palmer and Elaina Vermeulen, Class of 2015


This year has proven to be a year of great significance and progress for our class as it has dawned on us that every moment, every second counts. The inevitability of our time together coming to an end has spurred us forward with a tremendous intensity as we strive to make the most of our time that remains.

Our partnerships will not come to an end when we cross the stage at graduation. Though we will not have the privilege to visit our partners in Haiti due to travel restrictions, we are excited to play an integral part in supporting our Haitian partner Restavek Freedom Foundation’s Port Salud transition home for girls rescued from Restavek. Our goal is to raise sufficient funding to start a $100,000 fellowship in order to financially support one girl’s place in the transition home every year. A partnership with Hal Walker’s sport and event management class has promised us a Casino Night in November, a fundraising event sure to bring us closer to our goal.

We have established a program with our local partner, Alamance For Freedom, that will allow one student per semester to intern for this coalition, learning and disseminating information about trafficking in Alamance County, developing resources for survivors, and working hand-in-hand with law enforcement for the sake of prevention and intervention. A member of our cohort, Amy McCurdy, has pioneered this position, creating a precedent for the many interns to come.

DSCN7764We are so grateful for those of you whom have supported our Stand Up for Freedom week. Many hours of work have been poured into this week dedicated to raising awareness and facilitating discussion about this woefully forgotten issue. We feel strongly that all members of the Elon community should know about the prolific and dangerous practice of human trafficking, especially acknowledging how it exists at a shockingly grand scale in our university’s own backyard. We are honored to have four representatives from our Haitian partnership, Restavek Freedom Foundation. Please help us recognize Christine, Joan, Rosaline, and Adeline. They have brought a fantastic interactive exhibit which presents a first-person view of restavek, set up in the Sacred Space of Numen Lumen. We highly encourage you to go visit the exhibit, to experience first-hand the trials of child slavery. It will be up through tomorrow.

For the past three years, Elaina and I have been fortunate enough to deliver the speech for the Class of 2015 at Celebrate Periclean, and each year we have wrestled with the question “What does it mean to be a Periclean Scholar?” We have tried, again and again, year after year, to define what this challenging yet rewarding experience means. After all this time, we think we may finally have encountered the true essence of this program, and what is has added to our time here at Elon. To be a Periclean Scholar means to care; to care deeply about the world around us. To care so much so that it spurs us to cross oceans, deconstruct our own beliefs, and lend our hearts to the heroes who raise their voices against injustice every day. To dedicate our undergraduate research to understanding trafficking, to work with anti-trafficking organizations in Alamance County, and to scrutinize the roles we play in promoting social justice. In May, we will be ready to face the world as more informed, compassionate, curious, and humble citizens of the world, so much of which we owe to our privilege of being Periclean Scholars.



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Class of 2017: A Week in Review

This week was a very productive week. On Monday, we started out with two class presentations. The first presentation was about Education in Namibia. The group presenting covered topics such as the general structure of the education system, attendance and graduation rates or different demographics, and discussed major leaders and legislation in the education area. The presentation did a good job in identifying some weaknesses in Namibia’s education system and some possible improvements as well. The second presentation was about Namibia’s infrastructure and economy. Topics discussed included electricity and water, transportation, hospitals, emergency services, major industries, media, and standards of living. One of the major points of the presentation covered the large income inequality in Namibia. Both groups did a good job providing meaningful information!

On Wednesday, our class had two guest speakers, Aisha Mitchell and Samantha White, alumni from the Periclean Classes of 2012 and 2006, respectively. Aisha currently works in Elon University’s Student Professional Development Center, and discussed her class’s process and her experiences after leaving Elon. Samantha White is currently working for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle and discussed her experiences in Malawi with the Global Health Corps and other experiences since Elon. She also shared her experience building Elon’s Periclean Program. The presentations were inspiring to our class, but also somewhat intimidating. We’ve got big shoes to fill! We also heard our first proposal for a potential partnership with HATponics, a sustainable agriculture company based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Following class on Wednesday, we participated in the Celebrating Periclean event, in which each class discussed their progress and gave a general update to the pan-Periclean community. Samantha White was the guest speaker and delivered a great inspirational speech about her experiences in the Periclean Scholars. Our class has also been participating in Restavec Awareness Week, hosted by the Class of 2015. Events have included a screening of Not My Life, a documentary covering the types of human trafficking, “A Day in the Life of a Restavec” interactive exhibit in the Numen Lumen Pavilion’s Sacred Space, and a benefit concert for the Restavec Freedom Foundation featuring several student music groups.



Gavin Hayes and David May

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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

IMG_3552[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 bottom up.

What is the appropriate balance between education and doing aid? There is no set career path in the aid industry or IMG_3551certain 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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