IL Major Wins Funding for Summer Art Project in the Dominican Republic

Thanks to the Visual and Performing Arts department, Crystal Rodriguez ’14 will spend part of her summer bringing art to life with school-aged youth in the Dominican Republic. Rodriguez, a double major in International Studies and Studio Art, received the Mary Louise Larrabee Prize to run a summer art project in the Dominican village of Corozo.

“Last summer in Corozo, the local community had no funding for summer programs,” Rodriguez wrote in her winning proposal. “Therefore I wanted to put my interdisciplinary skills, as a double major in International Studies and Studio Art, to develop a program that introduces timely issues while finding ways to creatively understand these subjects through expression.”

Crystal Rodriguez '14

Crystal Rodriguez ’14

Rodriguez plans to use her $1,500 grant to organize and run a one-month art program during July and August for youth in Corozo with the help of community partners. She plans to lead art activities that connect local youth with the environment and contemporary art in the Dominican Republic. Prof. Jo Yarrington, director of Studio Art, will serve as Rodriguez’s faculty mentor for the project.

In addition to her dual majors, Rodriguez also found inspiration from her Peace and Justice service learning experience in Bridgeport last semester. She learned the difference between helping and serving. “Service is done through our own wholeness, serving the wholeness of others,” Rodriguez wrote.

Rodriguez intends for this project to be the beginning of a sustained relationship with youth in Corozo. In the upcoming school year, she plans to coordinate with local leaders to set up Skype conversations between the youth and students in VPA courses at Fairfield. She hopes for the students in Corozo and Fairfield to share art work, and talk about college life. “This will create a continuous relationship of reciprocity.”

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Spring Semester Ends With Academic Showcase


Melissa Hannequin ’13 and
Dr. Terry-Ann Jones

Last month, several enthusiastic International Studies students presented their hard work and talent at Fairfield’s annual poster session for undergraduate research. The Research and Creative Accomplishments Symposium, organized by the Office of Academic Affairs in BCC 200 on April 25, featured innovative projects and to research papers, from students of all academic disciplines.

The International Studies Program was represented by some outstanding research projects produced in IL courses. Some of these projects were primary field based research where students like Melissa Hannequinn, a Sociology and International Studies double major, placed a great effort on presenting on the impact of globalization on Developing Economies, Cultures and Politics. Melissa presented her International Studies senior capstone research project that focused on the cultural anthropology of Nicaragua and Tanzania, particularly on issues and challenges faced by such smaller nations and how they are more susceptible to market penetration by capitalism and outside culture.

Amber Ashman, an International Studies major, also focused on Nicaragua for her research. Her main objective was to identify the effect of post-revolution on the street children in Nicaragua. Amber interviewed young Nicaraguan children about their daily lives. She learned that most of the children took jobs at a very young age to help their families financially.

Amber Ashman '14

Amber Ashman ’14

Amber also spent significant time at the ‘Associacion Las Tiasde Leon’ or ‘The Aunts Association of Leon,’ which is a NGO run by local women, who are helping rehabilitate such children, helping them with their education and giving them a loving home. When asked what were the obstacles she faced while doing her research she mentioned it was getting honest responses from the government on their role in helping such children, that the picture they painted was misleading from the real scenario.

While there were projects focusing on the cultural and economic issues in Latin American countries, there also were interesting topics like ethnic cleansing and internal conflicts around regions in Africa and the Middle East. Students from Dr. Suzanna Klaf’s section of IL 50 showcased projects, which highlighted conflict intervention and women’s empowerment in Africa and the Middle East.

Overall, the event created a really good platform for students to share their experiences whether in the field doing research or learning about world issues. It definitely is a good platform for future students to figure out what field they could take up for future research or paper. Events like these open up doors to engage the students in a spirited environment to work with teams but above all enjoy a cultural and informative exchange.

- This post was authored by Karishma Chand Thakur, International Studies Graduate Assistant

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Academic Excellence in International Studies

2013 inductees into Beta Alpha chapter of SIR

2013 inductees – Beta Alpha chapter of SIR

In March, Fairfield’s Beta Alpha chapter of the Sigma Iota Rho (SIR) International Studies honor society welcomed 18 new inductees because of their academic excellence in International Studies and International Business. The International Studies Program held a induction reception on Sunday, March 24 in Alumni Hall, which was attended by 11 new inductees and their families. International Studies and International Business majors are eligible for induction into SIR by achieving an overall GPA of at least 3.3 and a minimum 3.4 GPA in the major. Eligible students will also have completed 21 credits hours in the major.

This year’s graduating class of International Studies students have been recognized for exceptional academic achievement. Seven International Studies majors were recently inducted into Fairfield’s Zeta chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the most prestigious honor society in the US. Several International Studies majors were recognized for their academic achievements by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) and the Dolan School of Business (DSB). Other student highlights include Juliann Sanza ’13 who won three CAS awards for excellence in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Mandarin, and Spanish. Kristin Alexy ’13 received a CAS award for outstanding work in Russian and East European Studies. Kevin Reda ’13 won a CAS award for excellence in International Studies. Benjamin Franco ’13 was recognized in the DSB  for academic excellence in International Business. Christopher Mandley ’13 came in second place at the 2nd annual DSB student Business Plan Competition with a proposal to innovate the use of I-Phone cases using solar power.

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