Macalester students continue to make global impact

2013 January Live It! Fund Projects lead Mac students all over the world

Six Macalester students spent their J-Term addressing educational, environmental and human rights issues through projects sponsored by the Institute for Global Citizenship’s Live It! Fund. Hector Santiago Bautista Aniceto ’15, Hannah Trostle ’15, Leah Plummer ’13, Hana Masri ’13 and the team of Clark Bledsoe ’13 and Vinod Malwatte ’13 embarked on projects that took them all over the globe: to Mexico, rural Minnesota, Ghana, Nicaragua and Sri Lanka.

Aniceto’s project combined his interest in film and television with his interest in education. He brought his ideas back to his hometown of Veracruz, Mexico, where he planned on leading a two-week workshop for local students aged 12 to 18 on television and film production.

Although his workshop had to be scaled back due to a lack of expected financial and human resources in Mexico, Aniceto helped eight students create a short film. Their project, entitled “Indifference,” showed the impact adults have on the lives of children in the region. Through Ancieto’s connections in the media industry, the film was picked up for distribution by a local radio and TV station.

Aniceto said he felt privileged to have the opportunity to complete a Live It! Project, particularly one that gave back to his hometown.

“I would encourage other Macalester College students to take these kinds of opportunities,” he said. “They challenge you, fulfill you, and above all, they make you grow … as a human being.”

Trostle also brought her global citizenship project to her hometown, only she did not need to take an airplane to get there. Trostle, who is originally from Remer, MN, a small town located in the northern part of the state, returned home to create a college access program for students attending high school in her town. As a first-generation college student, she wanted to help similar students make plans for college.

After facing the reality of busy high school students who did not have time to attend her program, Trostle’s project evolved from including “a lot of students” to targeting a smaller number of consistent attendees. She also tailored her program to meet the interests and demands of those students by including information on time-management, class selection, resumé creation and scholarship applications.

Trostle said the program gave her a new way of looking at her community.

“The Live It! Project was a truly amazing experience,” she said. “To be able to see the community I grew up in from such a different perspective has been transformative.”

Plummer traveled a long way for her project, spending four weeks with Nyame Tsease, a cultural drum and dance group in Accra, Ghana. She helped the 12-member group start a cooperative bakery to bring the individual members increased economic stability.

Plummer and Nyame Tsease were able to furbish space for the bakery. By the time she returned to the U.S., the group was “regularly selling out” of the traditional Ghanaian and international breads they baked.

Plummer said that her experience with the unique drumming group will stay with her forever.

“Nyame Tsease exhibits incredible humility and a community ethic,” she said. “[I] intend to apply what I have learned to every community to which I belong.”

After spending a semester studying abroad in Nicaragua and staying for another two months interning afterwards, Masri decided to return to the country again. She was so inspired by summer work with a feminist NGO that she used her Live It! Project to reconnect with the organization and create a small convenience store. All of the profits from the store went towards educational programs about gender violence in the community.

This initial plan evolved into a clothing store, Casa de la Mujer, which made a $300 profit in its first week. Although the clothing store differed from her initial plan, Masri said she learned a lot by having to adapt and adjust.

While Masri was busy in Central America, Bledsoe and Malwatte were at work in Sri Lanka, creating a documentary highlighting local biodiversity and raising awareness on the possible dangers of development for local populations.

The team conducted a number of interviews with local residents and NGO groups, including the International Union for Conservation of Nation, to comment on the proposed development in Kalpitiya, a Sri Lankan resort community. Bledsoe and Malwatte have future plans to return to Sri Lanka to present their documentary as well as broadcast their work on social media.

Bledsoe said that not enough people are working on conservation issues in Sri Lanka.

“We have an opportunity to make some sort of impact on an issue that has flown under the radar,” he said.

Brianna Besch ’13, an IGC Student Council Member representative who helped coordinate the Live It! Program said she was very pleased with the results of the projects.

“Part of the reason I think the Live It! Fund is so unique is that there are few other opportunities like this on campus,” she said. “The Live It! Fund [helps] students who had independent project ideas related to global citizenship live out that dream.”

A presentation of J-Term Live It! Projects will take place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. today in Olin Rice 150. Open houses for the Summer Live It! Program will be held from 4:30-6 p.m on Monday, Feb. 11 and 8:30-10 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12 on the third floor of Markim Hall. The application can be found at with the deadline at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16.

Davis Peace Prize narrows to two Mac finalists in national competition

Davis Projects for Peace is a $1 million national program that provides funding for college students to complete public service projects around the world that aim to create peace. This Monday, Macalester’s selection committee selected the two projects that will advance to the national competition. One of the two projects will receive $10,000 of funding. The names of Macalester’s entries have been withheld in anticipation of the Mar. 15 announcement of national winners.

Macalester has had a deep partnership with the program since its founding in 2007. In the program’s inaugural year, Macalester’s Institute for Global Citizenship published a pamphlet book highlighting the program and President Brian Rosenberg provided commentary as well.

Macalester recognized for Peace Corps involvement

For the sixth consecutive year, Macalester has been ranked as one of the top 20 U.S. undergraduate small schools (institutions with less than 5,000 students) for alumni Peace Corps involvement. This year, Mac fell from 15th to 18th place. Neighboring St. Olaf College and Carleton College were ranked second and eighth respectively.

“I think there are a lot more opportunities for students now, which may cause lower [Peace Corps] numbers,” said Karin Trail-Johnson, Associate Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship. “I think [the ranking] is a natural outgrowth of students’ interest to be of service to the world … and to improve the conditions for other people.”

Peace Corps members make a 27-month commitment to work on education, development, health, and environmental projects around the world. Currently, 15 Mac alums are stationed all over the world as volunteers. Since the Peace Corps’ inception in 1961, more than 300 Mac alums have gone through the program.