Navigating Sustainable Periclean Partnerships in the “Real World”

A fundamental element of the Elon Periclean Scholars Program is the sustainable nature of our partnerships. As our organization celebrates a decade of service and engagement with partners in communities all over the world, it is especially worthwhile to reflect on the “sustainability” aspect of our partnerships. With our alumni base now larger than our undergraduate cohorts, a significant number of previous Periclean initiatives are being put through the test of proving their long-term sustainability. As President of the Class of 2011 Executive Board, I’ve frequently pondered the sustainability of my own Class’ initiatives and partnerships, both in Sri Lanka and domestically.

As Periclean alumni juggle efforts to attain personal independence, financial security, and professional advancement in the “real world,” their time, energy, and motivation to sustain previous levels of Periclean engagement are frequently diminished. It is challenging – downright difficult – to “find time” to strengthen and grow our Periclean partnerships if we do not actively “make time” to do so. Our Class’ approach to, and execution of, these sustainable partnerships as we transition to life beyond Elon has been far from perfect, but in the interests of sharing “Periclean Wisdom,” I would like to share some of the challenges that we’ve encountered, some of the experience and insight that we’ve gained along the way, and, of course, some exciting updates from our Class.

Three interconnected challenges relevant to the long-term sustainability of our partnerships are:

Developing a leadership structure.

Periclean Scholars has always been  a “student-owned” organization, but how does that translate when members are no longer students?” How does the Mentor’s role evolve, and how are responsibilities transferred to alumni to maintain critical class functions?

Managing logistics of information.

As Periclean alumni fan out across the United States and the world, the challenge arises of how to keep class information (i.e.: passwords, contact information, relevant communications) centralized and accessible. How should information be organized, and what  means should be used to ensure class access to appropriate information?

Engaging classmates and peers.

Long-term, active engagement by members of each Periclean cohort is probably the most crucial factor in the successful sustainability of our partnerships and initiatives. How, then, does one consistently and effectively reach out to members of their class to encourage active engagement with Periclean initiatives?

Our class has taken several steps to meet the challenges discussed above:

Formation of the 2011 Periclean Executive Board.

Just before our Class’ Graduation, Dr. Arangala selected several members of our class to serve a two-year term on our Class’ Executive Board. These individuals were selected based on willingness to serve in that capacity, relative stability of post-graduation plans, and demonstrated commitment to with Class initiatives in the past. Positions include Chairpersons for Internal Class Communications, Fundraising, Several Key Partnerships/Initiatives, and Class Engagement/Bonding. The role of the President of the Executive Board is to coordinate/support the Chairs and to serve as a liaison between the individual class and the broader Periclean organization. Since Graduation in 2011, our Class’ Executive Board has established monthly Google + Hangouts to share committee updates, plan actions with regard to partners, and craft internal Class correspondence.

Leveraging Technology to Manage Class Information.

Our Class realized the importance of centralizing all relevant information and correspondence as we were planning the Leaders in Environmental Advocacy Forum (LEAF) during the fall of our Senior year. We established a Class gmail account for correspondence with partners, and have archives of class information and relevant correspondence organized for access by the Executive Board and class members on google drive.

Outreach Strategies to Drive Engagement.

E-mail has been our Class’ main means of outreach. Liz Leman has been a spectacular Communication Chair, sending countless Class update e-mails to keep members informed about the latest developments with our partners. We’ve also launched a Twitter (@Periclean2011), and Facebook presence as additional points of contact and interaction with our Class. Pericleans living in the Washington, D.C. metro area have also met up on a few occasions, and it might be worthwhile to investigate the feasibility of additional in-person gatherings, both at Elon Homecomings/Graduations and in major metropolitan hubs. This blog will be a good addition to ongoing Periclean outreach efforts.

Finally, a few recent updates from the 2011 Class: Funding has been allotted to purchase books for Panangala Junior School in Sri Lanka. We have also wired funding to our friend and partner Chamindha to buy books for a school in Nuwara-Eliya, and to purchase fruit trees for a planting project there. We’ve had regular contact over the past year with Anuradha, our liaison from Rainforest Rescue International, and are preparing to allocate additional  funding for the Ranger program at Panangala Mahabodhi School. Anuradha recently added additional pictures of Ranger Program events on our Ning site – I highly encourage you to take a look and leave a comment! We continue to fundraise through Class dues and donations, and look forward to actively sustaining our Class’ partnerships long into the future!

Sending Periclean Love,

Katie Dirks, ’11

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    What an amazing update! Thanks, Dirks.