Tag Archive for community service

DNA Workshop, African Drumming, Compass Use at Minds in Motion


Pictured at right, Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, director of graduate studies, taught a Minds in Motion program March 12 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. Her student assistants, pictured in the back row, are graduate student Jacob Litke, graduate student Li Yan and Hyo Jung Yang ’12. “Minds in Motion” is an afternoon of fun, fast-paced, hands-on workshops geared to high-interest, motivated students in grades K-8.


Kurban ’14 Helps Children Obtain Clean Drinking Water in Developing Countries

Carina Kurban ’14 sells stainless steel water bottles for $15-$20 apiece through her organization 1for3.org. She donates 100 percent of the proceeds to help developing countries gain access to clean drinking water.

In the remote village of Gitwe, Rwanda, 6-year-old children ascend mountains, or make the journey by foot along dusty roads – more than 3.5 miles each way – to fetch water for their families. They fill plastic motor oil jugs or any other container they can find. Barefoot and often in intense heat, they lug the 40-pound containers of water back home.

“The bins that the children carry are just as big as they are,” says Carina Kurban ’14, who witnessed the daily procession of thirsty children during a fact-finding missionary trip in August 2010. “And many of the children can’t go to school because they need to make multiple trips a day just to get water.”

Kurban, who spent her week abroad collecting data from water sources and villagers who clean water would benefit (see video below), is the co-founder of 1for3.org, an organization dedicated to providing access to clean water in developing countries. Selling stainless steel water bottles in the United States helps thousands around the world.

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“It’s simple. When someone buys one of our bottles, they are not only helping the environment locally by cutting back on plastics, they are simultaneously saving three lives overseas,”

Physical Plant’s Mike Conte Helps Rebuild Katrina-Damaged Home

At right, Mike Conte, assistant director of mechanical trades, works on a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Conte and his 17-year-old daughter, Megan Nicole Conte (pictured in back, center), volunteered with recovery camp Mission on the Bay to help rebuild a home located a mile off the shoreline.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s battering storm smothered Bob Flowers’ Gulfport, Miss. home. The flooding and winds left the structure unlivable, forcing Bob and his wife to reside in a FEMA trailer for the next four years and 10 months.

Desperate for some helping hands, the couple applied for relief with Mission on the Bay, a ministry of Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi. The organization provides volunteers who help families rebuild post-Katrina homes.

Mike Conte, assistant director of mechanical trades, and his daughter, Megan Nicole Conte, 17, are among 1,800 volunteers from across the country and Canada who joined the organization in 2010.

In mid-April, the father-daughter duo and eight

Local Students Sample the Sciences at Wesleyan

Isaac Lichter-Marck '11 shows an eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar to fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School on June 16. The Snow School students sampled the Wesleyan Sciences during a tour of Wesleyan’s biology, physics and scientific imaging departments.

Student Non-Profit Wins Dell Award; Presenting WESeminar

The Shining Hope Kibera Clinic will become an integral piece of our innovative model changing the realities of women in Kibera through the integrated links between girls education and services unavailable elsewhere.

Shining Hope for Communities, a student-founded non-profit organization, has been named the winner of the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition.

The award is based on a world-wide competition among college students who create projects that can “make the world a better place.”

Shining Hope for Communities founded The Kibera School for Girls in 2009 in the Kenyan slum of Kibera, and is creating the Johanna Justin Jinich Memorial Clinic and a community center this year at the same site. Initial funding for the Kibera School for Girls was provided by the Davis 100 Projects for Peace program. The Dell award includes $50,000.

The group has also received a $50,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation and a $1,000 award from the MTV People’s Choice Awards this year.

Shining Hope for Communities includes Executive Director and Kibera native Kennedy Odede ’12,

Local Church Honors Wesleyan with Community Service Award

At left, Pastor Moses L. Harvill of Cross Street AME Zion Church in Middletown presented the church’s Community Service Award to Wesleyan for “their many years of service to the Cross Street Tutorial Academic Center (CSTAC).” Wesleyan employees Trish Gordon, affirmative action specialist; Renee Johnson-Thornton, dean for diversity and student engagement; and Frank Kuan, executive director of the Center for Community Partnerships, accepted the award. AME Zion Church also awarded CaVar Reid '11 as the “Wesleyan Student of the Year.”

Students Share Video of Volunteering in Haiti

Eight Wesleyan students helped children affected by the 2010 Haiti earthquake during their spring break. The students are: Back row, from left, Ali Patrick '13, Barbara Moseman '13, Jacob Eichengreen '13, Stefan Skripak '13 and John Snyder '12 and front fow, from left, Michael Steves '13; Elijah Meadow '13 and Haley Baron '12. (Photo by Olivia Bartlett Drake)

Between March 7-19, eight Wesleyan students assisted the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team-Haiti (AMURT) by setting up camps for children and planting community food gardens in Port-Au-Prince.

The students, Jacob Eichengreen ’13, Elijah Meadow ’13, Haley Baron ’12, John Snyder ’12, Ali Patrick ’13, Barbaralynn Moseman ’13, Michael Steves ’13 and Stefan Skripak ’13, created a video of their experience (watch video below).

“Probably, the most difficult time for me was last night when there was a flash flood, and I just realized that everyone that we’ve met, or heard of…hundreds and thousands of people, right now are in six inches of water,” Snyder says in the video. “Their tents are soaked. People are sleeping in mud, if they’re sleeping at all. It was It was just an extraordinarily emotional experience.”

The students shared their experience to admitted students during WesFest on April 16, and to the Wesleyan community on April 19. More information on the  student’s trip is in a March 3 Wesleyan Connection article.

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Students Help Nicaraguans Create Irrigation Systems During Spring Break

During spring break, nine Wesleyan students helped farmers in Nandaime, Nicaragua build watering systems.

Thanks to nine Wesleyan students, subsistence farmers in the small urban center of Nandaime, Nicaragua, will no longer struggle to grow crops during the dry season.

Between March 7-14, the students transformed five plots of land into irrigated farms, which will allow a network of female farmers to grow extra vegetables in the summers and sell them at a cooperative.

“Now they’ll be able to supplement their diet with nutrient-rich foods and sell the excess food at the market for an additional source of income,” says trip organizer Rachel Levenson ’12.

Levenson and her peers, Amanda Schwartz ’12; David Harris ’13; Liz Wojnar ’12; Tasha Camhi ’12; Max Cecil ’12; Rebecca Lange ’13; Hannah Lewis ’13 and Miriam Berger ’12 accompanied Rabbi Seth Haaz of Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown, Conn. on the journey to Nicaragua during their spring break. The group partnered with American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which coordinated the logistics and provided leadership.

“The trip was a great way for the students to combine service, Tikkum Olam (repairing the World) and Jewish learning,” says Rabbi David Leipziger Teva,

GSAC, Wesleyan Students Teach Minds in Motion Workshops

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Le Na Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

At right, Jegadish Gunasagaran ’11, Na Le Dang ’11 and Jacob Litke ‘10 participated in a Minds in Motion program March 6 at Snow Elementary School in Middletown. The students taught fifth graders how to compare DNA from five different suspects taken from an imaginary crime scene. The Wesleyan undergraduates are students of Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry.

8 Students Assist Haitian Children during Spring Break

Wesleyan students are going to Haiti to assist children affected by the 2010 earthquake.

Eight Wesleyan students will assist victims of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake by offering hands-on community-based disaster relief during their spring break.

Between March 7-19, Elijah Meadow, Haley Baron ’12, John Snyder ’12, Ali Patrick ’13, Barbaralynn Moseman ’13, Michael Steves ’13, Stefan Skripak ’13 and Jacob Eichengreen ’13 will be setting up camps for children and planting community food gardens in Port-Au-Prince.

They will be assisting the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team-Haiti (AMURT). AMURT volunteers assist local residents, allowing them to grow and help their own communities. To date, the non-profit organization has distributed emergency food rations, tarps, tents and other supplies to more than 15,000 Haitian residents. They’ve also built 10 healing and education centers, which will benefit more than 5,000 children.

In preparation for the trip, the students are learning how to speak Haitian Creole with Haitian native Holly Nicolas, Wesleyan Station department assistant. They’ve also consulted with Barbara Dedman, director of nursing, and Robin Zup, medical billing specialist, in Wesleyan’s Health Services Department, where they received the necessary vaccinations.

Each student is paying for the trip out-of-pocket, which tallies in at $1,300. This includes airfare, vaccinations, meals, water, security and transportation. They’ve borrowed tents and sleeping bags from Wesleyan’s Outdoors Club, and are actively soliciting donations for medical supplies and craft projects for the Haitian children.

Eichengreen, who is leaning towards a degree from the College of Social Studies, has done service work in his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo., but never something on the same scale as volunteering with disaster victims.

“I breathe the same air as people in Tibet. I drink the same water as people in Somalia. I purchase goods made by people across the globe,” he says. “What happens to them also happens to me. Even in a place as remote and isolated from the international mainstream as Haiti, I feel obligated to go help because the people there are not all that different from the people I know at home.”

Baron, who is double-majoring in sociology and Spanish, has interned at the Coalition on Homelessness in San Francisco, Calif., supporting illegal immigrant families who needed clothing and jobs. She also taught an impoverished town in Ecuador about efficient trash and health practices.

Baron has a long-time interest in developing countries and the concept of a post-conflict society, specifically domestic issues of homelessness, poverty and East African politics.

“As I continue to learn about both of these topics, I realize that both are on different levels, one systematic, but more individual and the other societal are both situations in which people are post-conflict,” she says. “This is where I connect Haiti. I feel that the enthusiasm and dedication the eight of us wield can really create positive change in Haiti, something that is greatly needed. I just want to be able to make some type of change, even if that is making one child’s day better.”

Joe Bruno, vice president for Academic Affairs and provost, says service to the community has been a Wesleyan core value since the earliest days of the university’s existence. This commitment is continually reaffirmed by the efforts of colleagues in the Center for Community Partnerships and by the volunteer work done by Wesleyan students, faculty and staff in Middletown and elsewhere.

“The extraordinary efforts of these eight students involved in service to Haiti and the Haitian people is surely another excellent example,” Bruno says. “We can all be proud of their commitment and dedication to this important cause, and we should look forward to learning of their experiences when they return.”

While in Haiti, the students will video and photograph their daily activities, and ask the Haitian children to take pictures with disposable cameras. Eichengreen says he’ll use the media to encourage other students to volunteer.

“I’m sure the experience will be rewarding, but as for right now, it’s pretty nerve-wracking,” Eichengreen says. “Just when you think you’ve remembered everything and have it all taken care of, you remember that you have a five-page paper due tomorrow and three tests this week.”