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Two Swarthmore Student Programs Receive Funding from Project Pericles

For Immediate Release:  April 26 , 2007
Contact:  Marsha Nishi Mullan     


Two Swarthmore Student Programs
Receive Funding from Project Pericles

Two Swarthmore student projects have been awarded grants from the Pericles Fund for $25,000 each to build sustainable long-term civic programs. The Village Education Project is a non-profit foundation created in August 2005 by Katie Chamblee, a senior from Charlotte, N.C., that helps underprivileged students continue their education. The Darfur Radio Project began in the fall of 2006, drawing members from all academic years at Swarthmore who were inspired to create this radio program by their previous involvement with other organizations such as Swarthmore Sudan, the Genocide Intervention Network, and War News Radio.

The Village Education Project works through direct advocacy to promote universal public education in developing nations, starting with their work with rural villages in Ecuador where the group is making education an accessible and sustainable local resource. Their project currently focuses on underprivileged students from four villages that surround Otavalo, Ecuador: Mojandita, Chuchuqui, La Joya, and San Juan de Capilla. Many of the students from these sponsored villages are members of the Ecuadorian rural indigenous population, a traditionally disadvantaged social sector.

"When we support the educational needs of village students, both the families and entire communities reap the benefits of a generation with the power to improve their social and economic circumstances," said Chamblee, a Philip Evans Scholar at Swarthmore, who started the foundation with $500 of her own scholarship money.

The project began after she spent a summer teaching elementary students in a village called Huayrapungo and realized that these students would not go on to public middle school because their families lacked the money for school uniforms, supplies, and matriculation fees—about $200 per student. The project has established a foundation to raise and distribute these funds and runs a summer program with volunteer teachers to prepare the students for high school. Other members of The Village Education Project Team are Mark Dlugash '08, Christine Duranza '08, Kendal Rinko '09, Jake Ban '10, Anna Phillips '10, and Melissa Cruz '10.

The Darfur Radio Project hopes to "shift the lens through which the public views and understands the conflict [in Darfur] and will create a more inclusive dialogue as a way to formulate more effective solutions to this international travesty."

"The mass media has, in many ways, oversimplified and sensationalized the conflict in Darfur. They have divided the people of Sudan into two categories: good and evil. Stark moral divisions of this sort fail to recognize how the history of the country and the unique complexities of the Sudanese identity play a major role in the conflict," said one of the project organizers, Sarah Manion, a senior from Brewster, Mass.

The Darfur Radio Project plans to engage listeners in a more meaningful analysis of the conflict and its components. Other members of the Darfur Radio team are Rita Kamani '08, Jess Engebretsen '09, Chelsea Davis '10, Bettina Tam '10, Anna Grant '10, and Laura Wang '10.

Eugene M. Lang '38 and the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College created the Swarthmore Pericles Fund in 2005 to support groups of Swarthmore students who propose and implement social and civic action projects whose scope and sustainability will advance solutions for the issues in question and also promote recognition of students' motivation and capability to address such major issues effectively. The Pericles Fund is managed by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility at Swarthmore College. Swarthmore College is one of the founding institutions of Project Pericles, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that encourages and facilitates commitments by colleges and universities to include education for social responsibility and participatory citizenship as an essential part of their educational programs, in the classroom, on the campus, and in the community.

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