Student ResearchCritical Perspectives on Service in Mexico - Two Student Honors Components Explore Poverty and People's Viewpoints
|Molly Fawcett presents results of surveys and interviews
Thinking outside of the box is a challenge that two Honors students took on in preparation for this year's Shoulder to Shoulder service trip to Mexico. Both Molly Fawcett ‘09 and Ivan Gonzalez ‘09 undertook special projects as Honors components for Humanities 205 - Mexico in Context. This course provides background on Mexican history and culture as well as critical perspectives on service, globalization, poverty, and human rights to the students who are participating in the international service-learning program, Mexico Shoulder to Shoulder.
"Part of our reading for the class included an article by Ivan Illich in which he expresses the view that services trips to other countries, and Mexico especially, are insulting to the local people," says Molly. "This led me to design a survey to find out how others feel about Americans providing volunteer work abroad."
Molly's survey asked nine questions ranging from "Is providing financial aid to other countries a responsibility of US citizens" to "Why do people choose to volunteer." She asked the questions to 173 people from two different age groups. "One of the things I found most interesting was how few of those interviewed realized what a large a number of people in this world are living in extreme poverty," says Molly. "Only 18 percent knew that 41 - 50 percent is the correct amount.
"I did the survey before we left for Mexico. When we were there we had group meetings to discuss the work that we were doing. We were not only contributing our physical labor, we were also building relationships and learning from each other. There was a feeling of mutual respect."
For his project, Ivan hoped to interview local people in Mexico about poverty and NAFTA. "I did a lot of research before we left and made a presentation to the class on my findings. Spanish is my native language because I am from the Dominican Republic, so I did have many conversations in Mexico. Perhaps not surprisingly, I found that when I asked questions about trade or poverty they would change the subject. I was disappointed because my project didn't turn out as I had hoped, but as translator for the group I learned a lot. And, on two particular occasions I found myself being Lasell's official spokesperson. I particularly enjoyed this when I got to present scholarships to the students at the Coatepec school."
"The whole experience was better than I could have possibly imagined," says Molly. "I would go back in a minute."
Heroes and Dreamers – Combining Research with Social Action
Honors Students Create a Calendar and Support the Fight Against Poverty
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
- Martin Luther King
The calendar disseminates information on positive leadership and provides inspiration for a whole year. Research, service and learning components included:
- Identify and Research heroes
- Writing a brief but passionate description of each hero
- Giving an enthusiastic presentation about their most important hero
- Designing the calendar
- Reflection of each student on identifying characteristics that heroes possess
- Raising money for a non-profit service organization
Students sold the calendar both individually and at Lasell’s Fall Semester Connected Learning Symposium. They raised enough money to buy a sheep, a pig, a tree seedling, a trio of rabbits, a flock of chicks, and a flock of ducks for Heifer International.
The students are Kaylee Clemmey, Alexis Feinberg, Christina Garofalo, Allison Geoffroy, Alexandra Giamanco,Iván González, Cassandra Haase, Rachel Hamlin, Julie Hayes, Timothy Jutras, Sarah Mack, Erica Newton, Shayna Onofrey, Erica Picarazzi, Alyssa Ruggieri, and Erica Valente.
See other Honors 205 Sophomore Leadership projects
Investigating the Media - Learning from Each Other
Seniors and Juniors Collaborate with First-Years to Confront Genocide
(left to right) Allison Piché, Brianne Kujawski and Kacie Allen
Brianne Kujawski, Allison Piché, and Kacie Allen are three first-year students in Honors 101. After attending a session of the student-led course “Genocide: Darfur Film and Discussion,” they felt compelled to learn more about killing in Sudan.
In fact, they made this the topic for their research presentation in Hon 101: “The media’s role in sustaining or ending the ongoing genocide Darfur, Sudan.”Their entire interview with Lauren Tousignant, an Honors student and one of the four students teaching “Genocide: Darfur Film and Discussion” is located on the honors in action page.
The Northeast Regional Honors Conference
Based on their research and projects in the fall Honors 205 Sophomore Leadership courses, ten sophomore Honor students were nominated to represent the Lasell Honors Program at the Northeast Regional Honors Conference this past spring.
- One full-day educational and experiential excursion to Newport.
- One day of presentations, roundtable discussions, and poster sessions by Honors students.
- A special banquet featuring a keynote presentation on “WaterFire” by the artist who conceived of Providence’s well-known public art and performance installation.
- A luncheon and address on the “Secrets of Failure and Success” by the NRHC president.
- Music, salsa lessons and evening dance party
Student comments on the conference
Donna McIntyre, Sport Management
Going to this Honors Conference made me realize what a privilege it is to be a member of the program. It was truly an “honor” to be chosen to speak and present my research and hard work. Also, it was great to see my peers both at Lasell and at other schools act in a mature and intellectual environment. It felt great to be around students who are about their work and want to share their knowledge with others.
Erich Schiebel, Business Administration
The push for excellence was embodied in each individual as well as our group. The group developed our relationships through excellent presentations, and we developed quality relationships with other Honors students from the Northeast region as well. This experience was magnificent.
Erica Desautels, Fashion Design
At the Honors Conference, I got the chance to meet students from schools I had never even heard of. It was great to see a huge variety of different projects and then get to ask questions and initiate great discussions on fascinating subjects. One girl who was an art and biology major did a poster on 19th Century dress and actually created some samples. It was exciting to talk to a non-fashion major on this subject because she had a totally different perspective.
Kyla McKenna, Graphic Design
The conference was definitely not what I had anticipated. I was expecting it to be incredibly boring, and it was the total opposite. I even enjoyed giving my presentation and listening to the others. One of my favorites was by Kimberly Wall (College of Notre Dame of Maryland) who has worked for NASA. She spoke about solar induced flourescent light emitted from plants.
Rachel Craft, Education
I think that this conference was a good growing experience for me because I feel like our group came together as a whole when we weren’t really friends before this weekend. I learned a lot about different political issues in my major that have helped me take a different perspective on the way America views and values education. I enjoyed learning about the “No Child Left Behind” Act. This made me think about the government role in education. This whole trip was a fun experience.
Victoria Zaleski, Fashion Merchandising
I thought the conference was going to be hectic and stuffy. It turned out to be a lot of fun and more about expressing yourself and exploring new things. I think one of my favorite parts of the conference was the openness to discussion during the highly educational presentations.
Brianna Harbick, Human Services
The Honors Conference was really interesting to me. I enjoyed meeting all new honors students, and it was a good experience for public speaking. I enjoyed the poster session because you could get one-on-one interaction with the people who presented.
Ivan Gonzalez, Communication
This Honors conference was a great opportunity to be exposed to a variety of research projects. Lasell students did an outstanding performance, not only presenting and receiving feedback (many of whom were remarkable in content), but also creating a pleasant atmosphere among our group. I strongly believe this was a crucial element in representing our school in such a way and creating an environment of support among ourselves. Gathering information and taking memorable pictures were two tasks I enjoyed performing even though taking pictures, in particular, was sort of a challenge because the lack of lighting in the conference rooms, for example, was not very helpful. But our enthusiastic and very positive team told me that the pictures were just great. As an individual group, we spent some time together which I can honestly express these were times of great value. One of my highlights was practicing Spanish with members of the group and Professor Athey and committing myself to practice and teach more Spanish to the majority of people in our group.
Molly Fawcett, Psychology
The Conference has completely surprised me. I was expecting to present our class project and then just “hang out.” I was not expecting to have so much fun and to grow so close to the people from the Honors group. The Newport trip, walks around Providence, and salsa dancing were only a few of the activities that made this trip so memorable. Fabulous!
Alli Martin, Fashion Merchandising
The words "Honors Conference" don't exactly promote the idea of "Fun Fun FUN!" in everyone's mind, mine definitely being no exception. However, the experience of traveling as a group to this academic symposium provided to be quite a departure from all of our preconceived notions. From the informational yet intriguing tour of Newport and the Breakers Mansion to breaking it DOWN on the salsa dancing floor to participating in several presentations from schools around the Northeast, this was a fabulous experience that I would recommend to anyone who asks. We were able to interact with seveal students from other Honors Programs who are participating in a variety of projects, and the experience of getting to know other students in our program is something I will take with me through the remainder of my time here at Lasell. Great job, guys!!