Posted April 04, 2012
The first contact Jordan Francke (Neuroscience/Spanish) had with the McKeen Center was on Common Good Day when he was a first-year student, where he worked with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. From that moment, he was hooked on service and civic engagement, focusing his time on issues of poverty, working with immigrants and refugees, public health and civil rights activism.
During winter break his first year, Jordan returned early to Maine to volunteer with Preble Street soup kitchen and shelter in Portland through the Alternative Winter Break program. This experience helped to solidify his interest in hunger, homelessness and other poverty issues. Also interested in working with immigrants, he completed a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and so he could teach ESL in a classroom setting. He immediately put these skills into practice by getting involved in regular volunteer teaching at Portland Adult Education, where he worked with members of the refugee communities in Portland. Many of these individuals currently live in low-income housing because their current lack of English proficiency precludes them from competing in the job market. Jordan's two interests began to inform one another.
Jordan has jumped into leadership opportunities helping other students delve further into these issues, leading the 2012 Alternative Winter Break trip the following year focusing on rural poverty, and then serving as a leader of a 2012 Alternative Spring Break trip that examined issues of poverty in Washington, D.C.
Jordan’s interests in public health and civil rights activism arose over time. This past winter break he participated in a trip sponsored by Partners for Rural Health in the Dominican Republic where he served as a medical interpreter between health care providers and patients in rural villages. Concurrently, he served as an intern for EqualityMaine where he has organized petition-signing events and solicited signatures to get same-sex marriage on the Maine ballot this fall. Recently Jordan was selected to the competitive Clinton Global Initiatives University. Created by President Clinton, CGIU asks students to make a “Commitment to Action” by designing a specific plan of action that addresses a pressing challenge in their community. Jordan’s project is to study and work to broaden LGBTQ-inclusive anti-discriminatory clauses in Maine Patients’ Bills of Rights and Visitation Policies for health care facilities throughout the state.
"While resources such as soup kitchens and homeless shelters are invaluable to those struggling with poverty, serving should also incorporate a pursuit for longer-lasting, more systemic change. We need to obviously address the immediate concern that someone is starving, but we also need to address the WHY. Why is this person hungry, and how can we prevent it from happening in the future? While serving certainly is an incredibly rewarding part of my life, we should be working toward a world where it less necessary."
“I have come to discover in my experience that the most fruitful service endeavors require two criteria: removing a privilege hierarchy from volunteering and committing to longer, more sustainable systemic change in addition to working on the "quick fixes."”