Grants Yield Interesting Winter Term Projects
A large number of Winter Term grants were made available to help students cover the costs of their Winter Term projects in order to promote diverse, ambitious projects that might otherwise have been hindered by expense.
Out of the 31 grant proposals submitted by students this year, 21 were accepted by the Winter Term Committee. The amount of the grants ranged from $200-400 ($7000 in total) and the projects ranged from working at an organic farm in Hawaii to teaching English in Kenya.
“There are a lot of people who are using Winter Term in really intentional ways. They are using it to gain more experience and more skills to prepare themselves for graduate school and their careers after Oberlin,” said Brian Alegant, head of the Winter Term Committee.
“[Grants were partly given based on] how compelling the projects were educationally, and the specifics of the budget,” said Alegant.
“What is really gratifying is that we are seeing many of the ideas from the Strategic Plan reflected in the grant proposals,”he added.
Many of the proposals focused both on national and international field work. College junior Marne Litfin received a grant for her Winter Term project working at the Kanalani Ohana farm in Kona, Hawaii.
“I had heard that the George Jones Memorial farm could really use some more people who had a lot of farming experience,” said Litfin. “My goal is to come back with enough new skills and knowledge to work at Jones farm.”
Litfin is volunteering through an organization called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms which she found online. In return for about 30 hours of labor a week, she will be provided with room and board along with a wealth of eco-friendly information on farming. The grant money will go toward paying her airfare.
“I hope to learn a lot about organic farming, sustainability and alternative sources of energy through my experiences there,” said Liftin. “I think that those are things that many Oberlin students wish were bigger priorities of the College.”
Litfin added that she wants to “learn enough to bring back something useful and hopefully applicable to Oberlin’s own organic farming and sustainability endeavors.”
Araceli Mendiluce Munoz-Reyes, College sophomore, is coordinating a group of Oberlin students going to the province of Esteli in Nicaragua to explore the expansion of an already existing OSCA fund that helps women’s agricultural cooperatives in Nicaragua.
The group will be living with host families in Esteli and exploring the prospect of creating an educational fund in addition to the existing agricultural fund.
“What we want is a project that comes from the people in these communities themselves,” said Mendiluce. “A second goal is of a cultural exchange.”
Jon Woods, College junior, will be using his grant to help pay for his Winter Term project in Kenya. He will be teaching English to grade school students at Tchundwa Primary School in Lamu, a small island off the coast of Kenya.
“In that way, I’ll be able to learn Swahili and give back by teaching English to grade schoolers,” said Woods.
Woods took up Swahili this past semester as a private reading under James Ochwa-Echel of the African-American studies department and has been practicing the language with a friend from Kenya.
“I wanted to make what I’ve learned applicable to an environment where I can further my learning of Swahili,” said Woods, who will be spending his Winter Term without vehicles, electricity or running water.
This project will be Woods’ first time studying abroad.
These Winter Term projects represent a few of the many diverse and far-reaching endeavors that Oberlin students will be taking part in during the upcoming break.
As Alegant put it, “[these projects] are very proactive and healthy
ways of using Winter Term.”