DukeEngage adds 8 new programs

DukeEngage is expanding its international reach next summer.

The DukeEngage program, which funds domestic and international service trips for undergraduate students, announced Tuesday the addition of eight new programs for summer 2012—increasing the total programs offered to 42. Seven of the eight new programs are based outside of the United States.

Nine new programs were introduced for summer 2011—three of which were based in North Carolina—and DukeEngage accepted 50 additional students. Programs this summer will have a total number of 435 students, up from approximately 400 students last summer, Executive Director of DukeEngage Eric Mlyn said. One program in North Carolina and one in Uganda will not be continued.

“We’re only expanding very little this year,” Mlyn said. “We would like to expand over the long term just because there is so much demand for the program—we have twice as many applicants as spots.”

The Duke Endowment, an independent Charlotte-based foundation started in 1924 by James B. Duke, has committed to fully funding one of the new programs next summer in Bennettsville, S.C.

The program will serve the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools—an organization that DukeEngage worked with previously in Charlotte, N.C., Mlyn said.

Mlyn said a new partnership with the CDF Freedom Schools presented a joint opportunity for both DukeEngage and the Duke Endowment.

“We had students in our Charlotte, N.C. program, and they had a really excellent experience,” he said. “While we were observing that, the [Duke] Endowment was interested in expanding its work in South Carolina.”

Representatives from the Duke Endowment were not available for comment Tuesday.

The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer literacy courses for at-risk students. The program draws support from college students and recent graduates to teach students language arts and readings skills.

“We’ve been fortunate to have wonderful partners like Duke,” said Jeanne Middleton-Hairston, national director of the program. “I’ve been very impressed by their work, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the students that worked with us in Charlotte.”

Sophomore Tori Polo taught for Freedom Schools through DukeEngage in Charlotte this summer, calling it “one of the best experiences of my life.”

“I would definitely do it again, and I would definitely recommend it to friends,” Polo said. “Sometimes I was a little jealous of the people that got to go abroad, but I really did get exposed to an entirely new culture, especially through Freedom Schools.”

The seven additional programs, based in Cambodia, Thailand, Jordan, Lebanon, Uganda, Guatemala and Russia, are funded by a combination of donations from the Duke Endowment, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors. The programs in Uganda, Guatemala, Lebanon and Russia will be led by Duke faculty, while the others will be led by third party organizations.

David Schaad, associate professor of the practice and associate chair of Duke’s civil and environmental engineering department, will lead the program in Kaihura, Uganda. Schaad is the faculty adviser for the Duke chapter of Engineers Without Borders and has previously led DukeEngage programs in Honduras, Louisiana and North Carolina.

Fifteen students will work with a local, faith-based organization on medical, sustainable agriculture, education and construction programs, Schaad said.

“This is a good opportunity to partner with a wonderful community partner to improve both the community and give super opportunities to the students,” Schaad said.


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