Elon Periclean Scholars

Periclean Scholars induct Class of 2018

Periclean Scholars induct Class of 2018

With a focus on Zambia, 32 freshmen will spend the next three years taking classes that culminate in a project of social change as part of a program aimed at developing in students a deep sense of global citizenship.

Professor Tom Arcaro addresses the Periclean Scholars Class of 2018 at an induction ceremony on April 16, 2015.

Elon University’s Periclean Scholars celebrated their newest members on April 16 when faculty leaders inducted students from the Class of 2018 into the program’s ranks.

Thirty-two freshmen representing a variety of majors were welcomed by Professor Steve Braye, a faculty member in the Department of English who will mentor the cohort as they focus their studies on the African nation of Zambia.

The Periclean Scholars program at Elon University is committed to raising the level of civic engagement and social responsibility of the entire university community and to developing students with a deep sense of global citizenship and commitment to the common good. Students who become part of the Periclean Scholars program take a series of courses culminating in a class project of global social change.

The ceremony included charges from representatives of each of the three standing classes of Periclean Scholars, comments

Dan Baum, executive director of the Redwoods Group Foundation addresses the Class of 2018

Dan Baum, executive director of the Redwoods Group Foundation addresses the Class of 2018

from founding director Professor Tom Arcaro, and inspiring words from special guest speaker Dan Baum, executive director of the Redwoods Group Foundation.

At the ceremony, Elon junior Morgan Abate from the Class of 2016 was announced as the Periclean of the Year. Abate, currently on a semester abroad in Ecuador, Skyped into the proceedings.

Among the members of the Class of 2018 is Chace Blackburn, sister to Taylor Blackburn, a member of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2011.

“In my memory this is the first time we have had a legacy inducted into the program,” Arcaro said.

Among the majors represented in the new cohort are biology, cinema and television arts, public health, business, strategic communications, human service studies, international studies, finance, exercise science, marketing, environmental studies, psychology and policy studies.

Inductees included the following students:

  • Andrew Adair
  • Mary Alice Allnutt
  • Matthew Balzano
  • Chace Blackburn
  • Lindsey Clemmer
  • Elizabeth Conley
  • Elliot Eisen
  • Sydney Epstein

    Flags  Zambia

    The flag of Zambia

  • Jamie Fleishman
  • Daniela Hernandez
  • Margaret “Meg” Hinote
  • Jordan Hunter
  • Mercedes Kent
  • Bethany Lake
  • Hanna Macaulay
  • Courtney McKelvey
  • Jenna Merchant
  • Katherine Milbradt
  • Sandra “Kate” Pearce
  • Samantha Perry
  • Kayla Pieri
  • Adrian “Ian” Pomeroy
  • Elizabeth Reeve
  • Tate Replogle
  • Madison Sirabella
  • Micaela Soucy
  • Sydney Spaulding
  • Rebecca Suprenant
  • Isabella “Max” Warburg
  • William Wetter
  • Abigail Williams
  • Madeline Yih
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Class of 2018, welcome to the Periclean family!

Today we had the honor of inducting the 13th class into Periclean Scholars. The class of 2018 will be focusing on Zambia for the next three years and they are lucky to have Dr. Steve Braye as their mentor. Dr. Braye also headed the class of 2009 and they too focused on Zambia. To start off the induction ceremony, Dr. Arcaro talked about Periclean Scholars and how meaningful the program is. One thing he told the class of 2018 that really stuck out was “what you do in these next three years is up to you.” Dr. Arcaro is completely right about this, it is exciting to know that we have a new class with new possibilities and we are sure that they will do incredible things. After Dr. Arcaro, Dan Baum, the executive director of the Redwoods Group Foundation, came up to speak. Mr. Baum went with the class of 2009 to Zambia to help implement their project and it caused such an impact that he became certified and started to lead habitat humanity trips to Zambia. Mr. Baum made a very important point that was good for the new class to hear right off the bat. He said “be prepared to work with people instead of working for them.” It is important to go into a community and find out what they actually need and then work along side them instead of going in and completing a service project as an outside group. We then had speakers from each current class come up and discuss what they have been doing. Each person spoke eloquently and had good words of advice for the new class. Following the class updates the Periclean of the Year Award was presented to Morgan Abate. Because Morgan is abroad everyone attending the ceremony got to skype her and watch the award be presented virtually. Finally, Dr. Braye said a few words and the class of 2018 was inducted. The best part of the night was when each member of the class of 2018 popped a balloon to find out who their mentor was.

Congratulations to the class of 2018! We cannot wait to see what you accomplish in your next 3 years together.

Peace, love, Periclean.

Haley and Dani

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Class April 14, 2015

This week, the majority of our class was spent presenting our findings on the organizations we are currently considering partnering with for our project in Namibia. Each group discussed the potential merits and disadvantages of each organization, as well as presented more background and financial information on the organizations. The presentations gave us a clearer sense of what we would and could do in Namibia. While we are still not exactly sure of what we want to do, or with whom, we are certainly getting a better sense of what we are interested in, and getting a taste of what it is like to vet organizations! We are also expecting a visit from Dr. Moore next class to talk about Grow Biointensive, one of the organizations we are looking at, which will continue to aid us in our decision making.

Towards the end of class we talked about the upcoming induction ceremony for the new class of Pericleans (class of ‘18), which our events committee has done a fabulous job putting together. We could not be more excited to welcome the new class, and are looking forward to the ceremony on Thursday!

Peace, Love, Periclean,

Anna and Kelsey

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Class 10

The past few weeks we have broken up into committees for the majority of our class. We have found that this is an efficient way to get work done for each initiative we have committed to. We are excited about the work we are doing with Summit in Honduras, Hope for Honduran Children and LUPE. We are also developing our plans for the business summit that will be held next spring. We are in the process of getting this event approved by Elon.

Members of our class had the pleasure of attending a LUPE board meeting this past week. This was very beneficial in further determining what LUPE is and how we can help them! We have decided to research grants in order to find funding for one of their specific needs. We would like to collaborate with LUPE in writing the grant in order for this to be a sustainable process. It would be advantageous for their organization to have grant writing skills that can regularly support their organization.


The Summit in Honduras committee was able to Skype with Maggie! They had a great conversation with her about potential ways we can help her organization. We are trying to focus on plans that we can achieve here, rather than projects that would require us to be in Honduras. We got very exciting news that one of the Hope for Honduran boys will be working with Summit. We are all very excited that our partners have formed a relationship that benefits individuals in Honduras!

Cookies to Go Go was a successful event again this year! We raised over $300.00! These funds will go toward providing children in Honduras with school supplies through Hope for Honduran Children.


We are all very excited to meet the new class of Pericleans at the Induction Ceremony on Thursday!

induction ceremony

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“Don’t raise money for the future – do something for the now”

“Don’t raise money for the future – do something for the now”

[Note:  This post is part of an ongoing discussion about what it means to be a humanitarian activist.  See here for another post by Morgan and here, here and here for posts by the director of the Periclean Scholars, Tom Arcaro.]

By Morgan Abate, ’16 (from Ecuador)

How do you feel, Elon? You’re posting photos of ElonTHON, of you standing and dancing for hours for those who cannot – namely those who are being treated at Duke University Children’s Hospital. I commend the organization for raising more than $180,000 – which translates to about $160 fundraised per dancer.

In my three years at Elon, I have never participated in ElonTHON. When I heard about it in the fall of 2012, I told myself I couldn’t do it because it was nothing like the real THON with which I grew up. Where I grew up, outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State University’s THON was part of the culture of the entire state.

When it came to choosing a college senior year of high school, you thought about attending Penn State mostly for THON. Students spend a whole year fundraising. They spend 46 hours on their feet. The money they raise goes to the families of the Four Diamonds Fund who cannot afford their children’s medical care.

Several weeks before Penn State’s THON, on Feb 2, 2013 at around 9 am, I got a call from my dad. In the two minute conversation we had, my life changed. My brother had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia the day before, and had been admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia that morning.

Social media blew up. Everyone in my area knows my family (with four kids at different schools with different friends, everyone knew or had heard of my family), and the hashtag #prayersforMason was trending for a day in Philly. Next thing I knew, I had friends at Penn State texting me during THON, telling me they were dancing for my brother, dressed in orange.

That spring semester was the ultimate challenge for me. I couldn’t go home. My family’s life revolved around a hospital. My sister spent so many school nights at CHOP that she’d fall asleep in class. My brother was confined to a bed, Skyping into class and dealing with chemotherapy.

Now, part of the money that ElonTHON – any Dance Marathon for that matter – raises goes to research. Supposedly that research is looking for a cure to cancer or to at least improve treatments. Well, my mother is a pharmacist. Back in the early 1980s, she had an internship mixing chemo drugs. When my mom looked at the components of my brother’s chemo, she just laughed. The chemotherapy he was getting through an IV contained the same drugs that my mom had mixed three decades ago.

So that money goes to research, right? Meanwhile, Duke University researchers, who write grants to get money for their research, recently announced a potential breakthrough in the treatment of brain cancer.

It may sound harsh, but I’m not sure I agree with the idea that dancing and fundraising money will eventually lead to a cure. Scientists in labs and hospitals around the world receiving aid from governments will lead to the cure.

When the money goes to families who need to pay their bills, though, that’s a different story. It’s part of why I support Penn State’s THON so much. Their money goes to the here and now. On top of that, I know what it is to receive a little extra money when life is chaotic. All of the driving from Philly and back adds up in gas money. And to Johns Hopkins and back. Even the hotel we’d stay in Baltimore at had rates for Hopkins families. That makes a difference. Then there’s all of the food my brother and sister had to buy because my mom and other brother were at the hospital and my dad was out of town.

But there’s something better than fundraising and donating money.

Donate time. Donate blood. Donate bone marrow.

I saved my brother’s life because I sucked up my fear of needles. At the same time, there was no way I wouldn’t have done it. All the money in the world wouldn’t have helped him at the exact moment he needed it. But my bone marrow did. And he’s been in remission for almost two years now.

People need solutions now. Yes, the money might go to helping the masses in the future, but what about those now? Would you donate money if you heard a loved one was dying? Or would you take every test possible to see if you could donate something of yourself?

My sister has pushed past donating money, past this “slacktivism” if you want my view of it. Instead, she donates blood once a month and platelets every two weeks. She switched her career path from veterinary medicine to nursing. She volunteers at Children’s Hospital in Philly as a Bedside Buddy, a role in which she plays with and distracts kids to give the parents a much-deserved break. I remember music therapists coming to my brother’s room and me begging him to do it. Things like that are what make a difference in the now.

So go sign up for the blood drive at Elon. Volunteer at Duke Hospital. Write cards to the kids. Arrange a “Be the Match” event and register yourself. See if your dog can be a therapy dog. If you’ve done these things – great! But don’t just dance and raise money. There are kids suffering now who need a miracle, and you can give it to them.

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Class of 2016 April 7th class notes

First, we spent about 10-15 minutes in small group discussion about the homework for today, which was to watch an 18 minute documentary along with an accompanying article about the dangers that journalists are facing in Honduras. We then reconvened to discuss our thoughts. We talked about the large role that the government is playing in the violence in Honduras, in addition to the influence that transnational organizations are having on conflicts. Furthermore, we discussed the phrase, “Latin America as America’s backyard” and how that might relate to aid and service work. More specifically, the language and rhetoric that is used to reference aid is usually paternalistic or assertive in nature.

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 11.11.28 PM

We were also able to have a quick Skype conversation with Erin Luther, one of our class members who is currently abroad in Spain. She relayed some of her experiences there such as playing soccer with locals and information about her classes. She also discussed the differences between learning Spanish there and in Argentina. She found that she was more accustomed to Spanish in Argentina because she took a language class that informed her of common phrases and customs in the language.

After our Skype with Erin, we had committee updates and I think the class is pleased with the progress we are making. The LUPE committee has decided to help LUPE become a 501C rather than applying for grants. They are also planning to attend the next LUPE board meeting, trying to schedule a dinner with Blanca, and are looking into opening the El Centro fitness classes to LUPE.

The Elon Summit committee is also making a lot of progress. Aidan is in contact with the Moseley Center, and has reserved several locations. There has also been a date set for the Summit: February 20, 2016! The Summit is titled, “People, Planet, Profit,” the general programming is complete, the email is ready to be sent to potential organizations, and the budget is finalized. Additionally, Savannah submitted a Fund for Excellence grant to help fund the Summit.

We are also looking forward to Cookies-to-go-go this week, our largest fundraising event. Lexi reported that we have over $100 in orders currently, and Isabel is handling the advertising and social media. We discussed logistics for the fundraiser such as kitchen locations, cooking supplies, and the need for a social media blast.


We reserved announcements for the end of class, where we discussed the Induction ceremony next Thursday and the need for each member of our class to be present. We also voted on a t-shirt design. Finally, we split up into committees to catch up and finalize any plans for the upcoming week. Summit in Honduras committee is planning to talk with Maggie soon, as she recently responded to our emails. Dr. Arcaro stopped by the class to remind us of the induction and inform us of the speaker, Kevin, who has been with Periclean since 2007 and knows the program very well. We are looking forward to the induction and Kevin’s speech. Dr. Arcaro also relayed that the newest class has 33 very promising and enthusiastic students being inducted. We are excited to welcome them!

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April 7th, 2015 Class

Today’s class was all about project development and continuing our conversation about potential partners and areas of focus.  Last class we narrowed down a couple areas that we wanted to continue to explore and one of those was HATponics, an organization that focuses on sustainable agriculture through the hydroponic farming.  Today, we Skyped with the CEO of HATponics, Ryan Cox, who showed us examples of the farming technology that he has implemented in several countries and discussed how Periclean Scholars could be involved.  Our very own David May made this contact last semester and he led the discussion.  We submitted individual questions that David asked and we were able to gain insight on the different stages involved in being apart of a HATponics project.

After this Skyping session, we discussed this organization and the possibilities involved as a group and then we planned different groups to split into to research not only HATponics more, but other organizations that we are interested in.  By next class these different groups will present on what they found so that we can move closer to narrowing our focus in Namibia.

In terms of Periclean Scholars here at Elon, we stressed the advertising and media push for the Cookies to Go-Go Event hosted by the Class of 2016. Most of us took steps on Facebook and Twitter to promote this event!

Lastly, we discussed last minute induction plans, as well as what kind of “swag” we want to present to the new inductees. Also, plans for mentor-mentee pairing and relationships were brought up. Overall, we are very excited about meeting the new Pericleans and helping to show them just how incredible the Periclean Program is!


Peace, Love & Periclean <3

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In the aftermath: Experiencing the effects of short-term international service trips

In the aftermath: Experiencing the effects of short-term international service trips  

by Morgan Abate, ’16

As a Periclean Scholar abroad in South America, I felt I had a duty to contribute something to my class and the program as a whole. It’s always difficult to contribute to the program from so far, but I was committed.

IMG_3888I decided that I would work with a poor community within my city, Cuenca, Ecuador. My program introduced me to an after-school nonprofit called Fundacion El Arenal that works with kids whose parents work in the local market. Without the Fundacion, these kids would most likely be working from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., taking a five hour break for school and not doing homework. If they don’t do homework, they fail, and are stuck in the same cycle of poverty.

As of this posting, I have been abroad for two and a half months, working in the Fundacion every day except Fridays. I help the kids with their homework from 2:30 to 4, then make sure that they eat the snack they’re given. At around 4:45 Monday through Wednesday, they start workshops in communications, math and art. I work in the art room with another German volunteer and one teacher. Every week, the ages of the students we work with changes. Sometimes the students are 6 and 7. Other weeks, they are 13 and 14.

Voluntourism within the Fundacion

Several weeks ago, the Fundacion had 20 volunteers. Seven of us are there on a regular basis. The other thirteen came from UNC Charlotte, and were spending their spring break exploring Cuenca and implementing a project in the Fundacion.

During that group’s tenure here, I wrote a blog about voluntourism because, through my Periclean eyes, that’s what I saw. I saw eager college kids who barely knew Spanish trying to help kids with their homework and taking photos. They would pick them up, put them on their shoulders, play with them and forget their homework – because they could not help them.

In said blog post, I said that I did not want someone to tell me “Well, they’re only here for a week.”

Well guess what? I have now started to see the after effects of that week.

Some might argue that helping cannot hurt. We enter impoverished areas in the United States or in other countries around the world with the greatest of intentions – I don’t deny that. We want to help. We want to understand the people we’re helping and make a difference in their lives. How could we possibly make their lives worse when they live in poverty?

I’ll tell you how.

On Thursday, one of the directors of the Fundacion explained to the children that the volunteers are not allowed to pick them up anymore. This policy had been in place for about a week, and unfortunately, because of a change in my schedule at the university, from 12-17 March, I could not be in the Fundacion and thus did not know about this change. The director, though, had only told the volunteers about this change. The kids still clamored to be picked up and we had to tell them no. Finally, the director had to directly tell the kids.

According to her, their parents were not happy with the volunteers picking their kids up, spinning them, putting them on their shoulders and letting them do flips by holding the volunteers’ hands. The parents claimed that it made their kids ill-behaved at home.

The week that this large group was in Ecuador, the parents had their first workshop for cooking healthy meals – and nutrition in general. That means that all of the kids’ parents witnessed these Western volunteers picking up their children. My guess is that once they saw it, it made them uncomfortable, and they did not like it. Culturally it might not have been acceptable, either, especially since these children come from rough and more-often-than-not abusive homes.

Now, I don’t know if the kids truly were misbehaved more because they were spoiled at the Fundacion, nor is it my position to argue why they were or not. The point is that it upset the parents. It made them wary of volunteers.

If you ask me, that’s causing some harm.

Next were the actual workshops the group helped with. Instead of helping with last year’s project – English – they started a hygiene workshop. Hygiene is necessary to learn and to teach, yes, and I’ll admit that I don’t know what these classes consisted of entirely. But the teachers had already instilled the need to wash hands with these kids. There were the kids who listen and always wash their hands before meals anyway – and those who never listen. You won’t be able to change their minds in a week.

And of course, the remnants of those workshops aren’t visible. Kids still don’t wash their hands – and I doubt they brush their teeth every day. They’re still misbehaved and still try to delay their homework.

All that remains from that week are freshly painted walls with minions from Despicable Me – the only real choiceIMG_3890 the kids had that week.

The debate over voluntourism

Dr. Arcaro posted about voluntourism around the same time that I was witnessing volunteer traveling in my own neighborhood. It angered me. I have tried so hard not to be a voluntourist.

But even as I go through my own experience abroad, I am realizing that not everything I’m doing is good. I leave in two months and then what? These kids are used to people coming and going – and never returning. Thankfully, my primary purpose for being here is studying; I chose to donate my time to this Fundacion. Thankfully, I can speak Spanish and can help them with their homework. Sometimes, though, we can’t understand each other.

What’s more is I’ve started thinking more about Periclean and its role within international aid. If you ask me, after the experience I’ve had with the UNC Charlotte group and my own, I’d advise that Pericleans stop going to their country of focus to implement projects. Maybe having a few go down to visit partners is a good idea, but sending the whole class for two, three weeks? I see an extension of what happened here happening there. The work is better left to those on the ground.

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Video featuring the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), partner of the Class of 2012

Video featuring the Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP), partner of the Class of 2012

Take a look at this video and learn about how sustainable and culturally sensitive change can happen.


The seed for the Periclean Scholars program was planted in 1990 when I first met Raj and Mabelle Arole, founders of CRHP in Jamkhed and saw first hand the products of their vision.

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Project Pericles National Conference


Last weekend, Dawson and I had the opportunity to represent Elon at the 2015 Project Pericles National Conference in New York City. Project Pericles is the national umbrella organization for Periclean Scholars, and two students from each Periclean campus (along with many advisors) were present.

The conference was hosted by The New School in Brooklyn, and ran all day Thursday and Friday. An annual event, the conference included panel discussions, workshops, and networking sessions centered on civic engagement and creating social change. The final round of the Debating for Democracy Letter to an Elected Official competition was also held, during which the 5 final teams presented their case to a panel ofIMG_3688 judges and the winning team (Rhodes College) was selected. This competition is how we were originally connected with the conference, as Dawson and I wrote and submitted a letter about foreign aid accountability and transparency over Winter Term in our course taught by Dr. Arcaro, SOC 370.

We stayed at the Seafarer’s International House (which was just a short walk from The New School conference location) and roomed with a student from another college. This gave us the opportunity to meet some great students and learn about how Periclean operates at other universities. One of the major differences we noticed was the structure of the program, which was much more centered around community service at many of the other universities.

We participated in four 1 ½ hour panels over the course of the conference, which included the following: Social Action Panel; Media and Millennials Panel (featuring a journalist from the Washington Post as wellIMG_3704 as Ben Smith, Editor in Chief of Buzzfeed); Climate Change Panel (featuring several scientific experts, the founder of ioby.org, and a representative from the U.N); and a panel about the Role of Non-Profits in our Democracy, which featured leaders of several prominent NYC-based non-profits.

The panels were undoubtedly one of our favorite parts of the conference, as we were able to hear form experts in a variety of fields that were so passionate about their work. After the climate change panel I had the chance to speak with Erin Barnes, who is the founder of ioby.org—a crowd resourcing organization that empowers individuals to pool resources in order to make lasting change in their local communities. “Ioby” stands for “in our back yards,” and was founded with the idea of changing the world one community at a time. We thought this organization was really cool and could be a great resource for Periclean or other community projects.

On Friday the conference ended at 2:00pm, after which we split into small groups to visit one of 5 nonprofit organizations around NYC:


Inside the Harlem Grown greenhouse

Dawson and I chose to visit Harlem Grown, which is an awesome organization that empowers kids to grow their own food through urban farming, while emphasizing healthy eating and leadership development. The program leases several small plots of land around Harlem from the city, which it then converts into vegetable gardens that the kids are responsible for cultivating after school. In the winter, the kids meet at the Harlem Grown headquarters (inside), where they learn about nutrition, budgeting, and planning their gardens. Tony Hillery, who is the founder/director of Harlem Grown, led us from The New School to Harlem and showed us the entire operation–from the greenhouse, to the gardens, to the organization’s new headquarters several blocks away. It was a really informative experience and Mr. Hillary was one of the most passionate people I have ever met. Check out the website to learn more!


The school across the street from Harlem Grown.

Also: it poured snow all day long on Friday while we hiked around NYC, and we had 5 inches of IMG_3714accumulation by 7:00pm. It was a very cold (and eventful!) welcome to the first day of spring! IMG_3715

We left NYC early on Saturday morning after a whirlwind trip, but it was a positive experience and a great opportunity to learn more about Project Pericles and civic engagement at large. Please reach out if you have any questions or if you might be interested in attending next year’s conference…we’d love to share our experience with you more!


Snowy NYC

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