Category Archives: Class of 2017-Namibia

Class of 2017 Update From 11/17/15

As our semester is coming to a close, we are working hard to establish goals for the upcoming winter break, winter term, and next semester. We are eager to welcome our peers who are abroad back home and are trying to come up with ways to make the transition into next semester as smooth as possible.

On Tuesday, the class was very grateful to have Professor Moore from the Environmental Science department and a board member of Ecology Action come speak to us about climate and various other important considerations for sustainable agriculture in Namibia. We have selected a committee to work on developing a diet design plan for Namibia based on the resources that Professor Moore provided us with.

Additionally, we seriously discussed how to most effectively form local partnerships, particularly with Loy Farm and a number of other organizations in the Burlington area that work to end food insecurity.

We are continuing to push forward with our fundraising efforts with a profit share scheduled at Brixx on December 2nd from 5-9 p.m. We also are seriously investigating grants to apply for to help advance our project. We have many promising options and are in the process of breaking up into teams to work on them to be as efficient as possible.

Peace, Love, and Periclean!

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Class of 2017- Back for the final semester!

After our short January term, we came back for our first class meeting of the spring semester. We began by catching up on what we did over winter term and fake break, then discussed our plans for our last semester, including finishing the documentary, our local project, a potential virtual conference, and fundraising for the spring semester.

Although we were unable to host our conference this January, we are hopeful that we can still have impact in Namibia through smaller, more focused projects, and through the documentary. We are hoping to potentially hold a virtual conference in lieu of a physical one, and have reached out to our contacts at UNAM, but we are waiting to hear back. Kelsey and Oly were still able to travel to Namibia this winter to finish up filming for the documentary, and now are in the process of editing it. The class decided to assist them with the research needed to create the script, so we are very excited to be able to play a small role in the creation of the documentary.

We are also pleased to be continuing our partnership with the Burlington Housing Authority this semester, with members of our cohort going to the after school program each week to talk about topics related to food insecurity, agriculture, and sustainability. We are hoping to expand this partnership, as well, by perhaps sponsoring events for residents of the BHA to learn more about using their gardens and living sustainably.

Finally, we discussed how we would like to fundraise for the semester, and how we would like to distribute the funds.

While we are sad to think that this will be our last semester at Elon and with Periclean, we are ready to finish strong!


Class of  ’17

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BHA Recap

About a month into the semester, the Class of 2017 decided to partner with the Burlington Housing Authority in order to begin developing our local project. We decided to work with BHA’s after school program and create lesson plans related to sustainable agriculture and healthy living. We began sending 3 to 4 members of our group to the site once a week to teach a brief lesson and engage in some sort of interactive activity.

Everything seemed to be going really well for the first few weeks of the semester, and the kids seemed to really love our presence! We are so happy to say that during out last visit of the semester, the kids expressed their sincere happiness for our time spent at the center! We did a recap activity with the kids in which we asked them to share their favorite lessons and some things they learned during our time with them. We were so impressed with how well the students retained the information and how enthusiastic they remained up until our last visit.

The students were sad to hear that it was our final week, but they are so excited for us to continue working with them in the spring! We have spoken with the administration at BHA and we hope to plan an event with them towards the end of the year to highlight all of the work we have done with the kids.

This semester has had some tough moments for the Class of 2017, but BHA has consistently been such a positive part of our group and we are SO happy to have the opportunity to work with them! We can’t wait to get back in the new year!

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Class of 2017 Meal Swipes Fundraiser a Great Success

With final exams and the end of the semester looming, we took on one final fundraising initiative for this fall: tabling in the Moseley Student Center so Elon students could donate extra swipes from their meal plans towards our goal of addressing food insecurity in Namibia.


Set to last from Monday December 5th through Friday December 9th, the table would be staffed by two member of our class to provide information about the nation of Namibia and the current state of food security to those interested in donating swipes. The initiative was incredibly successful, as we maxed out the swipe machine from Elon Dining Services with 250 swipes from generous students over the course of just four days. This final push will provide us with more funding as many of our projects and initiatives peak in the spring, including our documentary and the virtual conference.

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Conference update: Virtual Conference

Hello Friends,

As some of our class bloggers have mentioned, our class has been dealing with the difficult news of not being able to continue with the conference on sustainable agriculture due to financial concerns.  While this news has been challenging, our class has been focused on moving forward and finding another way to partner with the University of Namibia. Specifically, today in class we discussed the idea of a virtual conference that one of our contacts in Namibia suggested.  This would allow for research to still be presented, which is definitely a priority for our class in terms of elevating Namibian scholarship and ideas.  Our main concerns are also finding the most sustainable and empowering way to use the money that we have collected to highlight the issues surrounding sustainable agriculture in Namibia and the world.

In an attempt to accomplish these goals, our class has decided to resume conversations with the University of Namibia, who states that they have already received 25 proposals for papers. Using some of the money originally earmarked for the conference, we plan to offer rewards to the best submissions, with the stipulation that the papers be submitted to academic journals.

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New Directions

After a few recent bumps in the road, we have officially decided that no one will be travelling there in January, as we had once planned on. In class today, we discussed alternatives for how we can use the money that we have raised, now that it is not being fully used on a conference. Below are the two main options that were proposed in class:

  1. One option that was discussed was a “virtual conference.” In other words, Namibian students would submit their research papers to an online database, which would act as a source of information, and a vehicle for sharing innovative research. The research abstracts would then be judged by a panel of experts, and money would be rewarded to students with the most outstanding papers.
  2. We also had a conversation about using the money as “grant money” to award to worthy projects in Namibia. This money could be used by the individual or organization to carry out their proposed project.

Other exciting news: Oly and Kelsey have proposed dates to go to Namibia to film the documentary. They also announced that a staff member from iMedia, Elon’s graduate communications program, will be joining them in the endeavor and assisting.

With this being our last class of the semester (cue the tears) we have set forth a few goals that we hope to reach next semester:

  1. We want to see the success of a virtual conference in January
  2. Move forward in awarding money to student abstracts/proposals
  3. We want to continue our relationship with the Burlington Housing Authority, hopefully moving into working on a bigger project with them.
  4. We would like to present at SURF at Elon University
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Documentary Update

Though we received some difficult news regarding our conference, we are still moving forward with plans to complete our documentary. Titled The Omega Project, our documentary intends to focus on the collaboration between local farmers and the Namibian government in terms of food security and the Go Local campaigns highlighted in the Visions 2030 Policy.


Students in Bwabwata National Park

To recap, three members (Kelsey Lane, Oly Zayac, and Susan Reynolds) from the Class of 2017 traveled to Namibia for 10 days at the end of May/beginning of June to begin filming. This was made possible through funding that we applied for during our junior year and received prior to departing. We were incredibly fortunate to have been awarded a grant from the Park Foundation for a total of $10,000. We also received $2,000 of funding from the Elon University Student Government Association, which made the trip during the summer possible. To sum it up as best as possible, the trip was incredibly rewarding, eye opening, and full of ample roadblocks and frustration (read our blog updates for a full overview of our time there this summer).


Fidi showing us a map of Bwabwata as an introduction to the park.

One of the highlights of our trip this summer was a visit to Bwabwata National Park in the Caprivi Region, located in the northeastern part of Namibia. Our class had previously established a contact with Fidi Alpers at the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservancy (IRDNC). Fidi was kind enough to spend an entire day with us, showing us around Bwabwata and introducing us to many people that lived and worked within the park. Our time in Bwabwata was inspiring to say the least. Our goal is to return to Bwabwata in January to elaborate on the stories that we heard this summer to ultimately document a story that will serve as the underlying narrative that drives the documentary.

Since our trip this summer, we have continued to do research in preparation for our return trip in January. We have identified organizations and individuals that would be beneficial to interview, and have begun reaching out and setting up meetings. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to meet some incredible contacts while on the ground in June who have been helping us get in contact with various people. One of our contacts, Katherine Carter, is an Elon alum living in Namibia and teaching at the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST). Katherine was incredibly helpful in getting us acclimated in Namibia in June and continues to be an incredible resource and friend as we prepare for travel in January. (Read more about our time with Katherine in a story published by the Elon Magazine!) Some of our other contacts include Forrest Branch, a friend of our mentor, Dr. Carol Smith. Forrest provided us with a wealth of knowledge and connections, and we are looking forward to reconnecting with him in January as well. There are many many others whom we give our thanks and utmost appreciation to. Feel free to read about our contacts on our website as we continue to populate it with information in the coming weeks.

While we are saddened that the conference will not be taking place in January, we are excited to continue moving forward as best as we possibly can. We look forward to sharing additional updates as plans are solidified and progress is made. Our goal is to release The Omega Project to the public in April of 2017.

The Omega Project co-directors,

Kelsey Lane & Oly Zayac

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November 29 Update: Class of 2017

Over Thanksgiving break, the Periclean Class of 2017 received some difficult news from the University of Namibia (UNAM). According to our university contacts, UNAM is no longer able to provide their previously designated portion of financial support for the conference. This means that as a class, we would be responsible for raising an additional US$10,000, a fundraising task that we are simply unable to fulfill.

Bearing such heavy news, we devoted the entirety of our class to debriefing our sentiments and searching for an answer to the question, “so what now?”

As members of the Periclean Scholars program, we are strongly opposed to merely giving money to a charity or cause; this is against the principles and ethics of aid that we have spent so many years studying. It would be both unsustainable and uninvolved, to an extent.

Together, we discussed the current relationships with individuals in Namibia that we already have, as well as options for connections that could be made in the future. Ideas include working with an Elon graduate at N.U.S.T., contacting the First Lady of Namibia since her agenda involves food security, and utilizing other viable contacts.

So, this post does not provide answers, conclusions, or finite plans in moving forward. We cannot say what the next days, weeks, and months will hold as a cohort. However, we will work hard to turn this obstacle into an opportunity.

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2017 Class Update: Nov. 8th

The Class of 2017 started off our time together this week with some logistical tasks, such as who is going to the BHA next week, who is writing the blog post for the week, etc. Our BHA visits seem to be going really well, and everyone who has gone so far has had an excellent time! We also discussed Cookies to Go-Go, which is being held TONIGHT (November 9th). Put in an order and support the Class of 2017 while eating delicious cookies!

Our class then moved into committee updates (Local, Marketing/Fundraising, and Conference). The local committee did not have too much to update, other than the fact that our visits have been very valuable to both the kids and ourselves. The marketing and fundraising committee gave a few updates on things like reserving and signing up to work Moseley tables for meal swipes in a few weeks, creating swag for the conference, and our YouCaring fundraising page. Lastly, we moved into the conference committee, which is where we spent the remainder of our class. To our dismay, things have not exactly been turning out the way we have expected them to. This is due to difficult communication across parties, as well as the inability to make future plans as a result of non-definitive answers. The conversation we had mostly revolved around the budget that we had been given for the conference, all of which we were expected to pay; however, this budget was approximately double of what we are able and had intended on paying. A time-sensitive revision of this budget is currently in the works. Every member of our conference committee is a rockstar and has been so incredibly patient and mature through this entire process. And at the end of the day, our class is all in this together and will do everything in our power to make sure that this project happens. More developments on the way!


The Class of 2017

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2017 Class Update: Nov. 1st

Today in class, our 2017 Periclean cohort successfully tied up a few loose ends, preparing for our final fundraisers (Cookies to Go-Go, and Meal Swipes) and trips to The Burlington Housing Authority, and solidifying a few ideas for our Spring Project. 

We will be hosting our final Cookies to  Go-Go event for this semester next Wednesday on November 9th. Be sure to order your cookies and support our Voices of Sustainability Conference! Similarly, our Meal Swipes fundraiser, taking place December 5th- 9th, will also be benefitting Voices of Sustainability. 

While in class we also were able to confirm that we would have Pericleans at The Burlington Housing Authority for these last few weeks until the end of the semester. This was exciting for our cohort because it will mark a full semester of us positively contributing to our local community. In addition to continuing our relationship with The Burlington Housing Authority in the spring, we have been wanting to take on something else for our local spring project. So far our thoughts have been centered around hosting a festival of some kind at The Burlington Housing Authority. This festival could look something like a health and wellness fair for the children we have been working with this semester. As a cohort, we also tinkered with the idea of giving the students we have been working with this semester a project for them to complete and then teach their families about at the end of the semester through a presentation or poster fair. It is very important to us to have input from The Burlington Housing Authority before we move forward with any local project for the spring, so until we hear back from our contact we will continue to brainstorm new ideas for our spring project.

Towards the end of class we had a guest speaker, Dr. Cahill, come to our class to speak about the philosophy of ethics and how we can use the tools she provided us to help with our restorative plan for our Periclean cohort. Dr. Cahill spoke of a spectrum that could help us identify our individual and cohort feelings about our actions taken while pursuing the KIND Grant; one end of the spectrum signified feelings of wanting to “sweep it under the rug” and not recognize how big of a deal it was, while the other end of the spectrum signified feelings of wanting to punish ourselves for our actions repeatedly and having it create shameful and  negative feelings towards ourself. After explaining the basics of the spectrum, Dr. Cahill opened her presentation up to us for questions and discussion. 

In order to continue to thoughtfully move forward after this presentation, I think that each member of our cohort needs to really think about where we fall on that spectrum in regards to our actions with the KIND grant. In addition, I think that going forward we will all need to be cognizant of each other’s feelings and attempt to help each other with the healing and restorative process. I am hopeful that this will bring us closer as a cohort and will truly be a teachable and transformative moment for each of us. 

Peace, Love, Periclean.

Shay & Periclean 2017

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Student Research Projects

The Class of 2017 is working to plan and solidify details for a conference that will take place in Namibia in January 2017. This conference will be an interactive environment for university students and professionals to share knowledge on techniques for developing food security particularly in Namibia but also in all parts of the world. This conference has allotted time for students to share their personal research on related topics. Students from The University of Namibia and Elon University will conduct research to be presented at this conference. As an integral part of Periclean Scholars Program we also strive to educate and share our learning with our own community. We have decided a good way to do this is to present our research again at Elon University through SURF Day, the undergraduate research presentation day. Below is a summary of the topics that Elon students will be researching in small groups to present.

To begin, our class chose to look at the very foundation of the work we are doing. One group of students will investigate the sustainability of food aid programs in the United States and Internationally. There is a debate in global spheres about sustainability and the line between crisis and development aid and how addressing food security falls along that line and in what situations. This group of students are looking to present on the ‘best practices’ of sustainable food aid at the conference in Namibia and also to the Elon Community on SURF day.

Alongside the many projects a group of students will research current information about the psychological effects of lack of access to food on people. As a class we feel that we have learned and the community is more aware of the physical and economic effects of lack of access to food, but there seems to be a gap in the conversation about the psychological effects of food insecurity. This team of students hope to fill this gap of information to make ourselves and the Elon community more aware of the data and research behind the psychological effects that much of our community may feel from living in a food desert and having lack of access to food.

As part of our projects a team of students are filming a documentary that brings light to the topic of food security and how different institutions are working towards improving food accessibility. Filming for the documentary began in June 2016 when a group of students traveled to Namibia to meet with contacts and begin developing the storyboard for the documentary. The documentary is anticipated to be finished in April 2017. With this deadline, the research team hopes to showcase clips of the film as part of the SURF presentations as well as give a presentation regarding the steps taken to film this documentary and the challenges that were faced by the team.

Another topic that we explored was the ethics of aid. More specifically, how the United States and other Western nations fail to take into account certain ethical, social and cultural ideals when delivering aid to African countries. Billions of dollars are poured into foreign aid, accomplishing things from providing economic foundations to bricks and mortar projects in small communities. There is a diverse array of state and non-state actors that contribute to foreign aid, yet despite the influx of money on these issues and regions, corruption continues to persist. And it isn’t exclusively corruption from the side of African nations, but elements of our system of aid are flawed which has allowed for the opportunity of corruption and manipulation to exist. This research aims to understand and analyze these key factors.

Narrowing the focus to Alamance County, another project will be focused on food deserts and food insecurity within Elon’s surrounding communities. Many students wouldn’t notice it traveling within a certain radius of Elon, but the outer reaches of Alamance County are struggling with access to food. One problem is the disconnect between more rural and isolated areas of Alamance county and the lack of markets or grocery stores in that area. Not only that, but other types of unhealthier foods are becoming more accessible with the increase in fast food within the county. It’s cheap and comes in large portions, with trade offs being the unhealthy manners in which the food is prepared. This is another issue our class is exploring.

Finally, our class will explore the relationship between HIV/AIDS and food. For people living with HIV/AIDS, it’s important to sustain one’s healthy living through a balanced and nutritious diet. This is important and applies to all people, but even more so for those HIV positive. The problem occurs when the communities where HIV positive people live are food insecure. This adds many problems that disproportionately affects those living with HIV. Another group of Periclean students will be exploring HIV/AIDS in Africa especially in the context of food deserts and food insecurity.

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