From Africa to Lancaster, F&M Students Work to Develop Community

  • Franklin & Marshall student Jack Pinsky '14 (standing, second from right) and students from other colleges work with a local resident to plant a garden in South Africa in July through the Social Entrepreneur Corps, an international internship program that helps community leaders learn how to earn a profit by marketing basic-needs products. (Photo courtesy of Robert Diggs '13)

By Bonnie Snyder

Sixteen Franklin & Marshall students traveled to South Africa over the summer, broadening their perspectives and deepening the College's impact abroad through two initiatives offered by F&M's Ware Institute for Civic Engagement.

The first program was part of a community-based learning class and connected students with Social Entrepreneur Corps (SEC), an international internship program that helps community leaders in South Africa and five other nations learn how to earn a profit by marketing basic-needs products such as water purifiers, water heaters, solar-powered lamps, solar-powered cellphone chargers and eyeglasses. The second program, ONE Goal, enabled the students to build upon earlier efforts by F&M to develop lasting bridges between the College and South Africa through sport-based education. Both groups engaged in efforts to improve the lives of local residents during their stays in South Africa.

F&M's seven SEC participants—Juliet Dalton '15, Ahmad Hussein '13, John Pinsky '14, Monica Duran '14, Robert Diggs '13, Vanessa Awanyo '14 and Yichun Liu '14—spent eight weeks in South Africa in two different locations: Cape Town and Mpumalanga.

"We learned about the micro-consignment model, which is different from relief work or micro-finance," said Pinsky, a psychology major and economics minor at F&M. "With micro-consignment, the SEC lends products to South Africans to sell, and the entrepreneurs receive a portion of the profits." The program included coursework and training in Lancaster and Africa.

The students participating in the ONE Goal initiative headed to the Chris Campbell Memorial Field and Education Center in Khayelitsha Township, South Africa. The field was dedicated in 2008 to memorialize former F&M men's soccer player Chris Campbell '08, who died unexpectedly in August 2007.

  • Franklin & Marshall students work with children at the Chris Campbell Memorial Field and Education Center in Khayelitsha Township, South Africa in July. The students used soccer as a tool to educate youth about public-health issues through the College's ONE Goal initiative. (Photo courtesy of Robert Diggs '13)

Ryan McGonigle '08, acting assistant director of the Ware Institute, was a teammate and friend of Campbell. The purpose of the ONE Goal program, he said, is to use soccer to engage local youth in public-health education. "Soccer is extremely popular, so this is a great way to entice members of the local community to learn this important information," said McGonigle, who accompanied the students on the trip. McGonigle coordinates F&M's outreach programs in South Africa.

ONE Goal participants this summer were Max Brewer '13, Rebecca Green '14, Kelley Lang '14, Stephanie Boothe '14, Andrew Glunk '15, Mandi Tembo '14, Morgan Reed '15, Czarina Hutchins '15 and Daniela Avelar '15.

Green, who participated in the program for the second consecutive year, secured grant funding from the Davis Projects for Peace to help finance this year's trip. Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative for students from partner schools in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design and implement grassroots projects across the globe.

"This year's program was specifically tailored to women's health, which is really important to me," Green said. "It's a big stigma for young South African girls to talk about puberty, women's health, relationships and contraception. Giving them this platform and outlet to grow so much, and become so educated in such a short amount of time was one of the best experiences."

For McGonigle, the most exciting part of this summer's adventures was seeing students contribute to the lasting legacy in Lancaster. "One of the most crucial aspects of the time in South Africa this summer was discussing how these students can bring their enthusiasm back to create positive changes here at home," he said.

With this in mind, the Ware Institute has established a follow-up program to continue the work started by ONE Goal. F&M S.L.A.M., which stands for Sports, Leadership, Academics and Mentoring, is an after-school program that uses sport as a tool to bring students from nearby Reynolds Middle School in Lancaster to campus to engage in tutoring and enrichment activities with F&M student volunteers.

S.L.A.M. will initially be staffed by F&M students who have participated in programs in South Africa, but is open to all F&M students. Anyone interested in participating may contact the Ware Institute for more information.

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