What are Swat’s Activists up to?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Global Health Forum

Have an old pair of Crocsâ„¢ that you aren’t wearing this spring? Instead of sending them to the landfill, please consider donating them and making a difference in the world. Swarthmore’s Global Health Forum, in partnership with SolesUnitedsm and Crocs, Inc., is organizing a Crocs Community Collection Campaign from March 16th through March 31st. During this period, collection bins will be set up in the Shane Lounge and the top of Sharples where you can deposit your donated used Crocsâ„¢.

The collected Crocsâ„¢ shoes will be recycled into new shoes then to be donated and distributed to children and adults of the Pémon village in Venezuela this summer. Many people in the village walk around in bare feet because they do not have the means nor access to buy appropriate footwear. These shoes will help improve the people’s health by reducing their exposure to parasites in the soil and water and by reducing the transmission of infections (i.e. tungiasis, hookworm, schistosomiasis, among many others), which thrive in communities where people walk around without shoes.

Additionally, Swat alum Dr. Bennett Lorber is coming to campus to address this concern of infectious disease on March 18th at 7:00 in SCI 183! Please join us to learn more about how our donations can truly make a
difference in a community’s well being.

Global Neighbors

Global Neighbours is a new student group dedicated to improving the social conditions of people who are marginalized and discriminated against based on medical conditions and/or physical disadvantages. We place an emphasis on social empowerment through public awareness and direct volunteer service. Our goal is to create a more understanding and accepting society that broadens the opportunities for everyone regardless of health.

Our current project focuses on helping Hansen’s Disease (HD) villagers in rural China. HD (leprosy) is a bacterial disease that causes skin lesions and lasting disfigurement, leading to strong social stigma. We strive to foster integration of the villagers into the surrounding community through social activities and public education. We are currently raising funds to send interns and volunteers to a village in Hunan province this summer.

In addition to international activities, we are constantly organizing volunteer activities closer to home for target groups such as those dealing with AIDS, autism, mental health conditions, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, etc. Our ultimate hope is to build strong relationships with the people we work with so that both sides are empowered to create change in society.

New members are always welcome! Please contact Bettina Tam (bettina.tam@gmail.com) or Tom Liu (tliu3@swarthmore.edu) with any questions.

Swarthmore Amnesty

Swarthmore Amnesty is a chapter of Amnesty International, a global human rights grassroots organizations working on diverse human rights issues from extraordinary rendition to freedom of speech to genocide prevention. Earlier this year, Swarthmore Amnesty participated in the Global Write-a-Thon to send letters all over the world for some of Amnesty’s prisoner of conscience campaigns. Right now, Swarthmore Amnesty is organizing Human Rights Week for the first week of April. The week will include discussions for students, faculty, and staff about the death penalty, LGBTQ rights, Guantanamo closing, and Israel/Palestine. We hope to include as many people as possible. There will be food- look for more information at the end of March!

Voices for Change

The Voices for Change (VFC) Summer Institute is a six-week program for teens in Chester to become media producers. With support from the Chester Police Activities League and the Swarthmore College Lang Opportunity Scholarship, eight teens will write, create, and produce their own films, radio broadcasts, or documentaries as a way to share their thoughts, voicing their ideas for the future. By using media to share their stories these teens will start a community conversation for change in Chester and simultaneously document the history of a growing movement in the city.

This summer the youth involved will develop into a core of media makers in Chester, helping to lead future after-school and summer programming. Furthermore, the teens will gain valuable skills to continue working in media journalism as they move into adulthood, voicing the many unheard stories of silenced communities across the nation. Finally, this group of young people will also learn media literacy and become conscious consumers, ready and able to digest and interpret the mass media they consume every day.

This is youth media.

This is social change.

This is the future.

This is VFC.

For more information contact Joslyn Young (joslyny@gmail.com)

Swarthmore STAND

Swarthmore STAND (formerly known as Swat Sudan) is a chapter of the national organization STAND a student anti-genocide coalition and a division of the Genocide Intervention Network.

STAND’s current campaign, Darfur from Day One, aims to pressure President Obama and his administration to follow through on their strong promises to bring peace to Darfur. In the first 100 days of Obama’s administration we will hold quarterly actions to pressure him on several policy asks including appointing a high level envoy to take on the situation in all of Sudan, and completing the foreign policy review in a more timely manner. Our next action for that campaign will be on Day 50 when we fax progress reports to the White House to demonstrate to Obama that there is a political cost for inaction in the face of genocide.

In addition last semester we participated in STANDFast to raise money for civilian protection in Darfur and Burma and with this campus’ help reached our fundraising goal!

For more information email pennsylvania@standnow.org or visit www.standnow.org.

The Village Education Project

The Village Education Project will be sponsoring Global Education Week, March 16th through 20th, to promote awareness and discussion pertaining to the educational opportunities of the world’s children. Advocating for universal basic education is a part of the VEP’s greater mission.

In addition to information circulating at Sharples on Monday, VEP will be showing Testing Hope: Grade 12 in the New South Africa—a critically acclaimed documentary chronicling the lives of South African students—on Tuesday, March 17th at 7 pm in Sci 199. Wednesday, at 4:30 pm in Cornell 104, an international student panel will share their educational stories as well as open up a discussion on global education. Thursday, March 19th, at 9pm, Ecuadorian food will be served during a Shane Lounge Parlor party accompanied by an international schooling photo display.

Last but not least, Friday will culminate with the Black Tie “People” Auction in Alice Paul Lounge at 8 pm, where select students and faculty will auction off their skills/talents to raise money for VEP. All proceeds from the auction will go towards paying school scholarships for VEP’s sponsored students in Ecuador.

VEP continues to organize its summer volunteer program in the villages around Otavalo, Ecuador, to tutor sponsored students in math, English, and computer skills. This summer Swarthmore’s own Juan Victor Fajardo ’09 will be heading the program and volunteers are still needed. For an application or more information email the VEP volunteer coordinator at zwiener1.


  1. First, I would like to say kudos to all of the wonderful work that these groups are doing. I've always been proud to be a part of a community with such a wide range of intelligent activists.

    However, I don't see any environmental activist organizations mentioned here. Earthlust is sponsoring a month of environmental awareness and action right now, Environmental Justice is working with the DelCo Alliance to start a community garden in Chester, GoodFood is working hard to expand our composting program and the Green Advisors are working to bring advice on how to live more sustainably at Swarthmore.

    There are a lot of green issues to be active about and a lot of students who are doing wonderful things (over 30 of us just came back from the largest youth climate conference and lobby day in history). Yet I didn't see any environmental groups mentioned in either this article or in the article on activism in the Phoenix the week before break and I'm wondering why.

  2. I shared similar thoughts with Elizabeth when reading this article. I expected to see EJ (Environmental Justice) and their local involvement in a Chester green jobs coalition and a new community garden, as well as Earthlust's on-campus sustainability efforts, Good Food's garden and composting intiatives, and GREENmarch, the Green Advisors' month-long series of events. How is all of the creative and passionate action above NOT considered activism?

    Between this article and the Phoenix's history of activism at Swarthmore article by Hannah Purkey in the last issue, it is personally baffling why environmental action and awareness efforts are not deemed "activism" or even worth journalistic recognition. I wonder whether this exclusion is a "Swat bubble" situation or a more common disconnect. However, when I glance at other college publications, I fear that we Swatties are much more isolated than we think.

    When will it become commonplace that environmental responsibility is social responsibility, that the environmental movement is THE movement of our generation, encompassing spheres of global health AND the crisis in Darfur?

  3. I assumed that when the Gazette editors were looking for "activist advertisements" through RSD before break, they got these as results. They were obviously written by the groups who run them, and they're all about 200 words, as the "LAST CALL for activist advertisements" posting in reserved students required. It doesn't seem like this is a deliberate decision to exclude, but instead a case where your groups missed an opportunity for some publicity.

  4. Apologies for the confusion.

    I think that Blaine and I both had rather strong reactions to the Phoenix article that he mentioned and so, when we saw another article about activism at Swat that appeared not to mention environmental activism, we felt the need to comment. I'm very glad to see that it was just a misunderstanding.

    If anyone is curious to find out more about any of the projects or issues that the green community at Swat is involved with (some of which were mentioned above), please feel free to contact either Blaine or I at scrampt1 or boneill1.

  5. These are all great projects and orgs. I'd like to take this opportunity to spread the word on an event that Idealist.org is hosting on March 25 in Quito, Ecuador.

    Workshop: Volunteering in Ecuador–The International Perspective

    Organization: Action Without Borders – Idealist.org
    Phone: 099218453
    Host Organization: Idealistas.org in Ecuador + the United Nations Volunteer Program
    Contact person: Celeste Hamilton
    Date: March 25, 2009
    Last day to apply: March 25, 2009
    Location: Casa Común de la ONU (Amazonas 2889 y la Granja), Mezzanine, Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
    Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
    Languages spoken: English and Spanish

    Want to help develop sustainable agriculture projects but don't know how? Would like to hear more about what it's like to work with children in an orphanage? Interested in sharing your experience about teaching in a rural indigenous community?

    We here at Idealist.org know it's tough to find volunteer opportunities without paying an arm and a leg. So we're teaming up with the Mesa de Voluntariado en el Ecuador to host a mini-event dedicated to you, the international volunteer who wants to give their time, energy and skills to a good cause but is having difficulty finding that meaningful experience. Or conversely, the international volunteer who wants to tell the world about their amazing experience or share lessons learned, but is unsure of the best way.

    Come meet with us to:

    * Gain insight into the Ecuadorian
    volunteer landscape
    * Dialogue about the challenges of
    volunteering locally
    * Chat with current volunteers
    * Share experiences and resources
    * Meet other like-minded people
    * Learn more about the nonprofit
    Open House week we are
    * Give your ideas on how Idealist.org
    can better support you

    This meeting is for:
    English-speakers who are either traveling through or living in Quito, Ecuador. We welcome anyone who is interested in community work.

    Current or former volunteers: Please join us to share experiences, resources and lessons learned.

    Prospective volunteers: Please join us to talk about the challenges of volunteering locally, and learn about how to become involved.

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