Joseph McKeen
Center for the Common Good

On the Road to International Development

Story posted November 10, 2011

Fresh from their experiences exploring international development issues through service with grassroots organizations abroad, Bowdoin’s recent Global Citizens Grant recipients Elena Crosley '13, Macy Galvan '13, Kate Leifheit '12, Abby Suresh '12, and Nina Scheepers '14, are now building on their work here in Maine. They are working to raise awareness on campus or in local schools, deepening their understanding of the public health, education and sustainability issues they addressed through the courses they’re taking, or gaining perspective on these issues locally through community service work in Brunswick or with immigrant and refugee communities in Portland.

For Nina Scheepers '14, working as a mentor and teacher with ImagineScholar in the Nkomazi region of South Africa "was absolutely amazing and life changing… It was a huge privilege to be a role model in these girls' lives." Nina has returned to her courses in Africana Studies with increased interest and a broader perspective. She is continuing her mentoring work through America Reads and Counts, and has connected with an English class at Brunswick Junior High School, so her South African students and the local middle school students are now sharing their worlds and their writing with one another.

Following her summer setting up a library and training a librarian, as well as teaching English and photography in an orphanage in Delhi, India, Macy Galvan '13 has gone on to study abroad in Greece, where she is examining service work from a broader perspective and with a more critical eye. She will return to campus in the spring and serve as the McKeen Fellow for Alternative Spring Break.

Elena Crosley '13 and Abby Suresh '12 both carried out public health and education projects in Nicaragua. At Building New Hope's veterinary clinic and school in Granada, Elena offered math and English classes, and also helped her students understand public health issues related to animal care. Suresh volunteered at Compas de Nicaragua, running health literacy workshops for young women, teaching English and participating in coffee planting with members of a local farmers’ cooperative. Said Suresh about her experiences abroad, "I hope that this experience will be just the beginning of my work in impoverished regions abroad." Abby is speaking with Brunswick High School Spanish students about education and sustainability issues in Nicaragua.

Also in Latin America, Kate Leifheit '12 focused on elder rights and health care for the elderly at La Fundación Abuelitos y Abuelitas de la Calle in Quito, Ecuador. Following her stay in Ecuador, Kate volunteered at a public urgent care center on study abroad in Chile and is now applying to graduate programs in public health. Working with a marginalized population that was homeless or dwelt in substandard housing strengthened Kate's dedication to housing issues, and she is now a leader of the College's Habitat for Humanity group.

The Global Citizens Grant supports student travel to pursue volunteer and public service projects outside of the United States. Projects must address a particular issue, be independently designed, and focus on providing direct service by working in local communities. By enabling students to immerse themselves in foreign cultures, the Global Citizens Grant aims to encourage a broadening of perspective among volunteers, the foreign communities in which they work, and the Bowdoin community to which they return. Initiated by Willy Oppenheim '09 in 2008, to date Global Citizens Grants have been awarded for public service work in Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru and South Africa. For more information, visit Global Citizens Grant, or contact Janice Jaffe or Anirudh Sreekrishnan '12.

Check out the Global Citizens Grant Exhibit in Morrell Lounge, Smith Union.

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Learn more about Abby Suresh's experiences in Nicaragua and Nina Scheepers' time in South Africa at the Global Citizens Grant Info Session at 5pm on November 14th, 2011 in Banister 106.