BRISTOL, R.I. — When a homesick high school volunteer cries on her shoulder over the difficulty of transitioning to living with a host family in a foreign country, Laura Dushkin knows how to help the youngsters through it and learn to embrace their new surroundings and opportunities. She’s been in their shoes.
Since she was 16, Dushkin has spent many summers volunteering with Amigos de las Americas, a nonprofit organization that sends American high school students to Latin American countries to engage in community development projects, cultural exchange and youth leadership training. Dushkin, who attended high school in San Diego, Calif., has worked at sites in Honduras and Ecuador on both a volunteer and professional basis, eventually serving as a project supervisor. Upon graduation this Saturday, she will be promoted to senior project supervisor in Costa Rica.
They were just simple steps – tweeting and shooting out an email – but they were all it took for Molly Katchpole ’11 to ignite her inner activist, the RWU alumna told students at the concluding event for Social Justice Week on campus last Friday.
In 2011, Katchpole had recently graduated from RWU’s art and architectural history program and was living in Washington, D.C., working two jobs and counting down the days until her six-month student loan repayment grace period would end. With the Occupy Wall Street movement in full force at that time, the public’s discontent concerning economic justice was palpable – everyone, including Katchpole, heard Occupy’s frustration in the news, on the Internet and in social media outlets. So when Bank of America announced a plan to institute a $5 monthly fee for its debit card users to access their money – which would hit Katchpole and other low-income Americans hardest – it was the last straw for her. And then it happened….
BRISTOL, R.I. -- Whether it’s engaging in a worldwide virtual discussion on the future of densely populated cities, or learning to inspire involvement from RWU alumna Molly Katchpole ’11 – who successfully petitioned Bank of America to drop a debit card transaction fee that hit low-income people hardest – a variety of events to inspire your inner activist will take place on campus during Social Justice Week, October 22 to 26.
After recognizing a need on campus to inspire more diversity, tolerance and cultural and social sensitivity, faculty members in the History and American Studies Department developed this inaugural weeklong series of events – co-sponsored by several departments and on-campus student groups – to encourage students to engage in social justice issues in ways that are meaningful to them.