Omar Abdul-Rahim / Sun Staff Photographer

Students and faculty discuss civic engagement projects at Cornell's annual Civic Engagement Showcase.

April 26, 2017

Students Display Global Perspectives in Community Engagement Showcase

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The annual Community Engagement Showcase displayed global perspectives, stories, research and information about various community engagement and service projects in Willard Straight Hall on Monday.

The showcase, sponsored by the Public Service Center, Office of Engagement Initiatives, Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives and Community Learning and Service Partnership, sought to strengthen partnerships and offer networking opportunities, service opportunities and service awards.

The event was organized by Rochelle Jackson-Smarr, assistant director of student leadership at the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

“Being able to share with the C.U. community is critical to [students’] own learning, so it is only right that our office provides them with the platform to present, network and most importantly critically reflect on their engaged learning experience,” Jackson-Smarr said.

The Student and Community Engagement Excellence awards went to two organizations: Devotees of Park Elementary School and AguaClara. Devotees of Park Elementary School helps provide resources to a high-need, low socioeconomic school and AguaClara is a program that creates water treatment systems with sustainable gravity-powered, electricity-free technology.

The recipient of the George D. Levy Award for Faculty Engagement was Prof. Monroe Weber-Shirk, civil and environmental engineering, for his work and collaboration with AguaClara.

For Karen Lin ’17, the showcase was an opportunity to display her findings from her project in Tanzania, where she got hands-on experience in rural and urban hospitals. When she returned, as part of a project for a class within Cornell’s Global Health program, her group adopted the focus of adolescent depression in Tanzania.

“In Tanzania, especially among adolescents, the symptoms haven’t yet been well-characterized … because of the culture,” she said. “Depression tended to not be reported … there tended not to be a discussion of feelings, especially across generations.”

For her project entitled “A Problem Shared is a Problem Solved,” Hannah-Dulya Menelas ’17 went to Chamakubi, Zambia, where she sought to learn about why the region had successful healthcare and community initiatives.

“We found that they have very good leadership and … a health center community called the Chamakubi Health Post,” she said, adding there was an extensive system of volunteers who informed health policies and improved healthcare in the community.

Birsena Ajvazovska ’18 and Tara Sarkar ’17 spent the summer in India through the ILR and Global Health programs working at Sneha Kiran Mysore Spastic Society, a school for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

“I taught classes and she taught computer skills, and we developed specialized learning methods for each individual child based on their learning disabilities,” Ajvazovska said.

Sakar said that, due to the physical limitations of the students, any assistance was useful.

“When we went originally we had been assigned to a specific project, but once we got there it was more like we just helped out wherever they needed it,” she said. “It was a really incredible experience.”