APPLES summer intern works to give back to the community

2014 APPLES summer intern MarrowFor many students, internships are all about gaining valuable experience. But for Raisa Marrow, ’15, an APPLES Service-Learning summer intern at Kidzu Museum in Chapel Hill, that experience also comes with an added benefit of impacting the community.

“I was attracted to the APPLES internship program because I knew it would provide me with an opportunity to do work in which I felt I was giving back to the community,” Marrow said. “I have received so much help throughout my career at Carolina and it has really made such a difference. I wanted to be able to do the same for others.”

APPLES internships are unique, intense experiences in service during either the spring semester or summer. Students intern at a variety of nonprofit and governmental agencies, receive funding ($1,200 for spring and $2,500 for summer) and participate in a service-learning course.

Marrow, an elementary education major from Jackson, North Carolina said, “The idea of service-learning interests me because it is easy to sit in the classroom and brainstorm ideas about how to tackle social issues and help communities, but going out into the field, interacting with people and having your own firsthand experiences provides insight into the issues and helps cultivate new ideas in a more authentic manner. That is why service-learning is so important.”

Because the achievement gap is an issue close to her heart, Marrow chose to intern at Kidzu to gain varied experience working with children in the community in which she lives and where she will also be student teaching in the fall. “So many children do not receive an adequate education because of race, socio-economic status and other factors. In my opinion, every chance I get to work with children is a chance for me to help close [this gap].”

As a Kidzu intern, Marrow has done worked on many tasks including creating lesson plans for field trips, working in The Makery (arts and crafts center) and attending outreach events.

“I feel I have made an impact by bringing the knowledge and perspectives of a future educator,” Marrow said. “I was able to align my lesson plans with NC Common Core standards, so students are able to learn through play at the museum in a way that connects to what they are being taught at school.”

Marrow’s work in the community is not the only impact made. She adds that her experience at Kidzu has influenced her as well by increasing her creativity and ability to quickly create and adapt ideas.

“Before my internship I would not have considered myself an artist, but working in The Makery and being in charge of creating crafts for our new themes has really pushed my creativity,” Marrow said. “I am also sometimes asked to do educational demos with the children which pushes me to think quickly. I know these skills will be useful in my future classroom. I could not think of a better way to spend my summer than working with amazing children and helping them learn and have fun even when school is not in session.”

Former APPLES organizer shares life story and passion for service

By Meghan Modafferi and Frank Stasio

Listen to Alexandra’s interview on The State Of Things

APPLES 20th  Zagbayou

For the first time, I recognized that some of my life experiences mirrored the lives of my students. Alexandra Zagbayou

Alexandra Zagbayou was born in Montreal but returned to her father’s homeland of Ivory Coast when she was 4 years old. Six years later, her family fled because they feared political persecution in the tense years before the country’s civil war.

“We thought we would be in the U.S. for a summer. The summer turned into 15 years,” she said.

The family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Zagbayou learned English by reverse engineering her school’s French classes.

Later, her parents returned to Africa while she and her sister stayed in Raleigh with their aunt and uncle. A few years after that, their uncle was killed.

Zagbayou’s older sister became her primary guardian while she worked hard to finish high school and secure funding for college.

One summer, Zagbayou taught dance classes to homeless and displaced youth. This was when she first began to process her own challenging life experiences. She realized not only that she related to her students, but that she had come out the other side.

Today she helps run the Durham-based college-access organization, Student U. The program empowers students to pursue their own educational journeys despite diverse challenges.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Zagbayou, High School Program Director for Student U.

Cover photo courtesy of Student U.

Bryan Social Innovation Fellows impact Nigeria’s youth

Destiny brings triplets to Carolina

After sisters Risi and Sheri Ademola graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill this weekend, they will head in different directions. Risi is moving to San Francisco or New York for work, while Sheri will start graduate school in Illinois. Their other sister, Rucca, graduated a semester ahead of them in December and is heading to Los Angeles for more school.

Despite the distance that will be between them, the triplets from Raleigh will maintain a common and active bond to Carolina. The trio is developing a project called iLead Nigeria, a campaign and curriculum designed to help elementary school-aged students develop skills to one day become leaders in their country.

The mission is personal for the Ademola triplets. Their parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria before the triplets were born. The sisters have visited their family there regularly since 2002.

“It won’t be right for us not to go back and help our country,” says Risi.

A moral responsibility

Risi came up with the idea for iLead as a senior at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School. Her graduation project looked at educational methods to help Nigeria youth. As part of the project, she donated school supplies and developed a leadership curriculum.

At UNC, Risi received a Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship through the Carolina Center for Public Service to expand on the idea. The fellowship is designed for students who want to make a significant change in a community through an entrepreneurial project. Fellowship team members enroll in a public policy course and receive up to $1,500 to help launch their ideas, support from staff and other students and leadership training and personal development.

All three of the Ademola sisters are working on the leadership curriculum, along with another UNC senior, Toyosi Oyelowo. They have adopted an elementary school to work with and they keep in touch with the principal there once a month. Risi will return to Nigeria this summer to further work on the program.

The iLead Nigeria curriculum includes public speaking and career development lessons, but also seeks to help the young students further develop traits such as courageousness, persistence, patience and hard work. The women hope the Nigerian students will use what they learn through the curriculum to become community leaders or leaders in their careers who will speak out about injustices.

The women hope to develop iLead Nigeria into a campus organization in which two or three Carolina students work on the program in Nigeria each summer. They would also like to expand the program to other schools in Nigeria and recruit Nigerian university students to work on the program as well.

“I feel like it is kind of like a moral responsibility for us. We’ve been blessed here,” says Rucca.

Destiny to come to Carolina together

The triplets say it was destiny that brought all three of them to Carolina. They each served in student government in high school, with Risi as president, Sheri as vice president and Rucca as secretary. By their senior year, they started to develop separate interests from each other.

While they came to Carolina together and lived together for two years, they found different ways to occupy their time. Sheri majored in psychology and by her sophomore year had started conducting neurobehavioral research in the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies in the UNC School of Medicine. Risi, a journalism major, joined a sorority and loved to dance. Rucca, who majored in women and gender studies and African, African-American, and Diaspora Studies, started practicing yoga and meditation and spent a lot of time journaling.

Risi and Sheri also spent a semester abroad in the fall, while Rucca finished her coursework at UNC early and graduated a semester ahead of her sisters. Still, the triplets came together to work on iLead Nigeria because they want children in their parents’ home country to have the opportunities they have had in the United States.

“This word ‘destiny’ really captures our moments here at Carolina,” Sheri said. “We have been so involved in different activities for four years now and toward the latter part of our college experience, we have come together for this one project. I think it is kind of interesting. I think it is a little bit striking.”

By Natalie Vizuete, University Relations.

APPLES and BPSS student participants receive Chancellor’s Awards

Congratulations to these students involved in the APPLES Service-Learning and Buckley Public Service Scholars programs. Each received Chancellor’s Awards recognizing their academic or service leadership.

  • Amanda Baldiga ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Howard W. Odum Undergraduate Sociology Award, given to the senior judged by the department faculty as the most outstanding in academic performance.
  • Sarah Barger ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Peter C. Baxter Memorial Prize in American Studies, given to the undergraduate in that discipline who best exemplifies Baxter’s intellectual excellence, personal warmth and creativity.
  • Aidan Berry ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Edward McGowan Hedgpeth Award, given to the two undergraduates in Alpha Epsilon Delta voted most outstanding in service.
  • Rachel Brown ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the he Panhellenic Council Woman of the Year Award, given to the undergraduate who has made the most significant contributions in leadership, scholarship and service to her chapter and the Greek and University communities.
  • Kevin Claybren ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Frank Porter Graham Award, given to the senior who has made the most outstanding contribution to realization of the human ideals of equality, dignity and community.
  • Christopher Cunningham ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Robert White Linker Award, given to the most outstanding undergraduate residence hall officer.
  • Zachary Ferguson ’07 , a Buckley Public Service Scholar received the Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Award, given to the member of the Student Congress whose service through the Student Congress is judged most outstanding on criteria of statesmanship, commitment and constructive involvement in issues affecting the quality of the University community.
  • Joel Hage ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, given to one man and one woman in the graduating class who have best demonstrated unselfish interest in human welfare.
  • Brooke Hill ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Jane Craige Gray Memorial Award, given to the junior woman judged most outstanding in character, scholarship and leadership.
  • Joshua King ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Walter S. Spearman Award, given to the senior man judged most outstanding in academic achievement, extracurricular activities, leadership qualities and strength of character.
  • Nicole Lawing ’14,a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Edward McGowan Hedgpeth Award, given to the two undergraduates in Alpha Epsilon Delta voted most outstanding in service to campus and community through the society.
  • Lisa Owusu-Antwiwaah ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the National Pan-Hellenic Council Award, given to the undergraduate who has made the most significant contributions in leadership, scholarship and service to his or her individual chapter and the Greek and university communities.
  • Sharessa Royster ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the George Moses Horton Award for Multicultural Leadership, given to a senior who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, initiative and creativity in multicultural education programs.
  • Courtney Sanford ’13, a Buckley Public Service Scholar and APPLES Service-Learning organizer received the the Irene F. Lee Award, given to the senior woman judged most outstanding in leadership, character and scholarship.
  • Katie Savage ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, to one man and one woman in the graduating class who have best demonstrated unselfish interest in human welfare.
  • Anna Sturkey ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the L. Richardson Preyer Award for Excellence in Political Science, given to a senior judged by a faculty committee to have established the most distinguished record of scholarship in political science and community service. She also received the Ferebee Taylor Award, given to the member of the graduating class who has made the greatest contribution to the continued vitality and strength of the Honor Code in the community.
  • Jasmine Sun ’16, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Keith Shawn Smith Award for Community Development and Mentorship, given to the resident adviser or resident adviser mentor who has created a strong community, meaningful mentoring relationships and campus connections.
  • Nathan Tilley ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize, given to the senior majoring in religious studies who has been selected by a faculty committee as most outstanding in academic achievement.
  • Julia Whitley ’15, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the I.R. Hagadorn Award, given to the outstanding rising senior biology major with the highest GPA in biology courses and who has demonstrated excellence and dedication in undergraduate research.
  • Chenxi Yu ’14, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant received the Undergraduate Prize in Economics, given to the economics major judged most outstanding, based on performance in major and related courses.

For a complete list of Chancellor’s Award recipients, see UNC News.

APPLES recognizes 2014 service-learning award recipients

2014 APPLESAwardsGroupExtending learning beyond the boarders of the classroom is the essence of service-learning. Every day, UNC students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community partners put this concept into practice making a difference in the lives of individuals and the communities they serve. To honor their work, each year the APPLES Service-Learning program recognizes those individuals and organizations who have exhibited a sustained and deep involvement in service-learning at Carolina. This year, Hannah Smith, One Act, Hannah Gill, Robyn Fehrman and Clair Lorch received awards for their outstanding contributions to service-learning at the annual APPLES award brunch held Friday, April 11.

Hannah Smith – Undergraduate Excellence Award

Hannah Smith, a graduating senior majoring in Health Policy and Management, is honored for her involvement with the Samaritan Health Center over the years. Her work reflects a sustained and ongoing commitment to the community, while demonstrating genuine and valuable contributions to the organization. Her work has extended to her honors thesis project where she is researching patient satisfaction and health care access.

One Act – Community Partner Excellence Award

One Act is honored for its sustained and ongoing commitment to interpersonal violence prevention and the development of unique and valuable trainings to build awareness among students. The unique work of One Act integrates education, service, reflection and social action which provides students with particularly meaningful and transformative learning experiences. Through One Act’s partnership with service-learning, students have been included in significant work on campus, and in the community.

Hannah Gill – Teaching Excellence Award

Hannah Gill is selected based on her work with the Latino Migration Project and the APPLES Guanajuato course, where she has continued to deepen students’ understanding of local migrant perspectives over the years. Her teaching has strengthened the quality of learning in these courses through local and global community-based experiences combined with challenging critical reflection.

Robyn Fehrman – Outstanding Alumni Award

Robyn Fehrman is a 2000 and 2004 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former APPLES organizer. She is honored for her efforts and contributions toward social change in the roles she has served in for various nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood, Triangle Community Foundation and Teach For America of Eastern North Carolina. Robyn’s work reflects a passion for working with individuals and communities with the goal of increasing capacity building and social change

Claire Lorch – Service-Learning Award in honor of Ned Brooks

Claire Lorch is celebrated for her deep commitment to building community through service and ensuring food access to University employees. Through Claire’s determination, the Carolina Campus Community Garden (CCCG) has become a thriving part of our campus. She has sustained long-term partnerships with various APPLES courses, enriching the education and experience of Carolina students, while making a substantial impact impact on the lives of University employees and their families. Before her work with CCCG, Claire’s career at Carolina in various roles has reflected a genuine and meaningful connection with individuals and communities.

“Service is at the heart of APPLES and the same can be said of the Community Garden,” Claire Lorch said. “This garden is so much more than vegetables; it’s being involved in something bigger than all of us. It brings the campus and community together for a common goal…. APPLES allows students to take a deep dive into the workings and needs of the garden. There is only so much I as the garden manager can do. We are able to do so much more because of the students’ and their professors’ commitment to this work. It is our hope that the garden is a meaningful experience for them and one they will continue to benefit from in years to come.”

UNC students to spend spring break serving the community

By Laura Fisher ’15

2013 civil rights alternative spring break.

2013 civil rights alternative spring break.

While their peers venture off to tropical destinations for spring break, 60 UNC students will instead dedicate their time to giving back to the community. Through the APPLES Service-Learning Alternative Break program, students will spend eight days focusing on civil rights and disaster relief or characteristics of Latino, urban and rural communities. Students spent the semester preparing for the break experience through the two-credit hour class HBEH 610, Critical Approaches to Service-Learning. Classroom interaction focused on theories and experiences relevant to social action and community development, and the alternative spring break experience will allow them to apply what they have learned through service and advocacy work.

Between March 7 and 15, some APPLES students will travel to Birmingham, Ala., or Atlanta while others work in the North Carolina communities of Burgaw, Dunn, Durham, Charlotte, Clinton, Lumberton, Pembroke, Raleigh, Rocky Point and Swan Quarter. Each group will engage in direct and indirect service with community partners in the area, gaining a deeper understanding about the assets and challenges of those communities. Following the experience, emphasis is placed on reflection to encourage active citizenship beyond the break experience when they return to Chapel Hill and their home communities.

“It has been interesting to learn about civil rights in a classroom setting,” said Amy Kalinowski ’15, a student traveling to Birmingham to address civil rights issues in the community. “I am looking forward to directly applying everything we’ve learned so that I can gain a more personal connection to the issue.”

All APPLES alternative breaks are student-led experiences in which students travel outside of Chapel Hill to engage with a community, performing service while learning about a pertinent topic reflective of that area. Each year, more than 168 UNC students give their time to serve through APPLES alternative break programs, working with community partners that have established relationships supporting these breaks year after year.

For more information on APPLES alternative spring breaks, visit

Katie Weinel learns most from service work

By Deborah R. Meyer – The Chapel Hill News

Buckley Public Service Scholar and Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship recipient Katie Weinel shares her experience with service and its impact on her life

Brushstrokes: Students take arts into the community

Katie Weinel, Mary  - BPSS Musical OutreachKatie Weinel knew that a stellar GPA was key to getting into medical school.

“But I think that while I was an undergraduate at UNC-Chapel Hill, I learned the most not from my classes, like biochemistry or molecular biology, but from leading Musical Empowerment,” said Weinel, who is in her first year at the UNC School of Medicine. Musical Empowerment matches UNC students with children in the community to give them private music lessons.

“Music taught me perseverance and how to have confidence when playing in front of an audience,” said Weinel, who plays the flute and violin. “These are skills that you carry with you always.”

“I think the arts, and music in particular, are amazing tools for social change, bettering a community,” she said. “It is a language that everyone understands.”

Her senior year Weinel learned from her faculty adviser, Emil J. Kang, UNC’s executive director for the arts, that there was talk of forming a new service group related to the arts which would be a subset of the Carolina Center for Public Service’s Buckley Public Service Scholars program. The BPSS program gives UNC students who want to be involved in public service a framework. Undergraduates pledge to do at least 300 hours of community service. Weinel asked to help push this arts initiative to an immediate reality.

With a lot of hard work from key players, including Ryan Nilsen and Lynn Blanchard at the Carolina Center for Public Service; Aaron Shackelford, a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Carolina Performing Arts; Weinel and Kang, the new program, Arts in Public Service Fellows recently accepted its first 20 students. Two weeks ago, they began journeying out, volunteering at arts organizations, and exploring how the arts can be a tool for social change.

Some of the groups they are working with are Hidden Voices, Sacrificial Poets, The ArtsCenter, Durham Arts Council, Theater Delta, Boston Urban Music Project, and Triangle ArtWorks.

‘A huge challenge’

After Kang began at UNC in 2005, he took the Tar Heel bus tour, which is a five-day trip across North Carolina.

“I realized from this trip that the university’s commitment to the state was such a big part of what makes up the university,” Kang said. “It seemed to me like a huge challenge – what could we do at Carolina Performing Arts that has some connection to this commitment that did not seem contrived or fly-by night?”

Then in 2007, Kang went to a presentation by students involved in the Carolina Center for Public Service, which Blanchard leads. “I asked Lynn if there was any way that we could create a dedicated program that looks at the arts in public service. She thought it was a great idea,” Kang said. But the barriers that often exist for new ideas, including funding, were there.

In 2013, the perfect storm occurred. Weinel got involved, and seed money became available via The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create and support the Arts@TheCore program that puts the performing arts at UNC’s core. Shackelford agreed to create and teach a course as part of this new program. Service-Learning in America, offered through the American Studies Department, explores how the arts are tools of social change in our country. Course requirements include the students doing service hours in art organizations.

“We are approaching it as an historical overview and looking at a number of different movements,” said Shackelford. Movements since abolition are explored. The last three weeks of the course focus on Art and Social Change in North Carolina.. “We will look at Moral Monday and how North Carolina musicians have responded to this movement.”

Last year, a choir visited an American Studies classroom. “They talked about how their music is an expression of their faith, and started singing a hymn. Members of the choir and students started crying from the sheer beauty and power of the moment,” Shackelford said. “I had no idea of the religious convictions of the students, but it tied the entire room together in a way that no lecture could accomplish.”

Premed dancer

The 20 students who were accepted into the APSF had to first be Buckley Scholars, like Aditi Borde, a UNC junior chemistry major.

Like most of her fellow students, Borde does not intend to make her living in the art world. She chose to do her service hours with Carrboro’s nonprofit Art Therapy Institute..

“I thought volunteering with this group would relate back to my premed background and my interest in the arts.” said Borde, who is on a UNC dance team. “This has offered more connections in my life and opened my eyes to what is out there in ways to give back to the community.”

Though it took several years to happen, Kang is thrilled that this idea is now making its first ripples in the community.

“I like to think that we had to wait for the right set-up. We had to have Aaron and Katie here for it to work,” he said. “We see great potential.”

Students address community issues through popular service-learning course

By Nicole Beatty ’15

Pozefsky - s-l course Braille SquadUNC offers many courses for students interested in learning more about public service and civic responsibility. APPLES service-learning classes bring the two together by extending learning outside the classroom to collaborate with community organizations. One service-learning course in particular is in high demand: not only by students but by organizations in the community as well.

During the fall semester, 39 UNC students experienced service-learning in a unique way under the instruction of Dr. Diane Pozefsky. Students in COMP 523, Software Engineering Lab, created software for real-life problems, meeting the needs of clients in the community. To accomplish this, students had to understand the users’ needs and then design an appropriate system for each client.

“The most challenging parts of the course were that students learned new systems on their own and dealt with the problems of designing and implementing a system that has not been vetted to avoid problems,” said Pozefsky.

Throughout the semester, students worked on 12 different projects including one with MyHealthEd where students created an online sexual education course for the organization. MyHealthEd offers online courses to students in North Carolina’s rural areas where school districts are not always able to hire qualified teachers. Students also worked with Braille Squad, led by Diane Brauner, an orientation and mobility teacher for visually impaired children. Here students built an application to teach blind children how to use a refreshable Braille display, which aids them in typing, reading and learning braille on a computer. Unlike other courses, Pozefsky says she never knows what problems the class will encounter while working on projects with clients.

“I had a team working with a refreshable Braille display attached to an iPad, and they tried to use specific features that the client, who works with this device regularly, had never seen used before,” she said. “Not surprisingly, they ran into some technical issues.”

The class worked on a testing project for Tar Heel Reader, created by UNC’s Dr. Gary Bishop, a Thorp Faculty Engaged Scholar. Bishop developed a website dedicated to helping people learn to read. While the website was originally designed for teens and adults who never learned to read due to disabilities or lack of opportunity, it is now also used to assist people wanting to learn English. The student team assigned to this project created a way for Bishop to automatically test changes in the program before introducing them to the program users.

COMP 523 has come a long way since its inception almost 50 years ago. Dr. Frederick Brooks, founder of the Department of Computer Science, created the course. While working at IBM he was challenged by the company’s CEO to understand what made managing software hard. Brooks developed the book “Mythical Man-Month” and the COMP 523 course in response to his inquiry. Pozefsky took this course from Brooks when she was a graduate student and after working at IBM for 25 years, returned to UNC to teach. Pozefsky has been the course instructor for 10 years and has found that her industrial background made COMP 523 a natural course for her to teach.

Taught by Pozefsky in the fall and Professor David Stotts in the spring, this service-learning course offers a unique learning experience for students, so it’s no surprise that it is in high demand. Pozefsky says she typically has three times as many project proposals than the course can support. To make the course feasible for instructors to teach, class size is capped at 40 students per semester.

“As our department has grown and requests from clients have grown, it no longer was possible to contain it to a single semester,” Pozefsky said. “There is a huge demand for the course.”

With this course having been taught in the computer science department for almost 50 years and a service-learning course since 2010, it is a good example of how learning in the classroom blends with real-life application in the community.


APPLES Service-Learning student teaches healthy eating habits to community in Ecuador

Watching a student become a teacher is a teacher’s best reward.

So says Alice Ammerman, DrPH, professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and director of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP).

Ammerman recently heard from Cate Parker, her former student in Nutrition 245, “Sustainable, Local Foods and Public Health.” The course, co-developed and co-taught by Ammerman and Molly De Marco, PhD, research fellow and project director at the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which Ammerman directs, was offered through the Carolina Center for Public Service’s APPLES Service-Learning program.

Parker, who earned a double major in global studies and geography at UNC, is now program director for Manna Project International, a holistic community development nonprofit organization based near Quito, Ecuador.

Parker’s work, focused on preventive health, includes teaching four nutrition classes to 145 sixth- and tenth-graders – challenging work, she says, that she “absolutely loves.” She wrote to Ammerman and De Marco to let them know how she was sharing with her students the knowledge she acquired from her UNC coursework.

“I really enjoyed your class,” Parker wrote, “and just wanted you to know how far the information has spread.”

There is no standard nutrition curriculum in Ecuador, Parker said, so her class is likely the only nutrition education the children receive.

“Previously, the class had been taught using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s somewhat outdated food pyramid models,” Parker said. “We gave a quiz at the beginning of the semester, and it was shocking to learn how skewed these kids’ nutritional beliefs are – especially in a country with such an abundance of fresh and healthy food.”

Parker redesigned the curriculum, basing it on the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate and the work she had done in Nutrition 245.

She and fellow students had used the Healthy Eating Plate concept to develop a class presentation for employees of Weaver Street Market, a cooperative grocery in Carrboro, N.C., that sells local, sustainable foods.

“The employees of the market tend to have varying degrees of knowledge about nutrition,” Parker said. “Our presentation allowed them to learn some new information and become better able to educate their customers.”

In her classroom in Ecuador, Parker teaches the basics of the Healthy Eating Plate (whole grains, healthy proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and water) and then covers topics such as the importance of learning about nutrition as a young person, the value of learning to cook, the connection between food and the environment, and ways to make healthier substitutions for traditional ingredients in Ecuadorian recipes.

“It is always heartwarming to hear about the good things our students are doing with the knowledge they gained from our courses,” Ammerman said. “We’re proud of all Cate is accomplishing in her classroom.”

Posted from the Gillings School of Global Public Health

Guanajuato Connections: Experiencing the global South

Reprinted with permission from Carolina Arts & Sciences magazine 


Hannah Gill, director of the Latino Migration Project, says Guanajuato programs offer UNC students a “transformative experience.” (photo by Steve Milligan)

Beyond the headlines and policy papers about Mexican immigrants are the lives of men and women, boys and girls. Helping Carolina students better understand the human complexities of immigration is the mission of UNC’s Latino Migration Project.

The Latino Migration Project is a program of the Institute for the Study of the Americas and the Center for Global Initiatives.

The Project builds ties between Chapel Hill and the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, where many North Carolina immigrants have originated. It offers UNC students two programs — APPLES Service-Learning Global Course Guanajuato and Project Guanajuato — which provide a “transformative experience” involving service learning, global travel, internships and the development of close ties between UNC students, local immigrants and their families in Mexico, according to Hannah Gill, director of the Project.

Gill, an anthropologist who graduated from Carolina in 1999, teaches the APPLES course, which connects academics and research with public service.

“Students are required to volunteer throughout the semester with a local organization that works with immigrants in some way,” says Gill, who is the author of The Latino Migration Experience in North Carolina: New Roots in the Old North State (UNC Press, 2010). Students travel to Guanajuato over spring break, staying in the homes of local families. “The class offers a very in-depth experience of migration from both sides of the border.”

“It’s really profound to make a connection in your hometown with someone who is from very far away and then go to their hometown and connect with their family,” Gill adds.

For the final class project, students interview immigrants they have met through their service experience, and Gill trains them in oral history methodology. The interviews are available online.

A church in the town of El Gusano. (photo by Brittany Peterson)

A church in the town of El Gusano. (photo by Brittany Peterson)

Project Guanajuato — a summer community development and internship experience for UNC students — was started in 2007 by students who participated in the APPLES course in collaboration with Nourish International, a student organization that addresses global poverty. Thanks to a partnership between the Latino Migration Project and Fundación Comunitaria del Bajio (FCB), a nonprofit in Mexico, UNC undergraduate and graduate students spend about six weeks each summer in Guanajuato, working in rural communities with high levels of emigration to the U.S. Last year, students helped teach English, recreation, arts and dance classes at local elementary and high schools, and they lived with local families.

Guile Contreras ’14, whose parents are from El Salvador, grew up in Siler City, N.C. He participated in Project Guanajuato the summer after his first year at Carolina and became a trip leader the following summer.

“Students who go through Project Guanajuato get a new image of Mexico,” says Contreras. “In the long term, they have a better understanding of immigrants and why people emigrate, beyond [just] talking about it in class.”

Gill says that Guanajuato programs “educate and train students to be able to understand the complexities of migration which are usually glossed over in the public context.”

Students are gaining the skills they need to deal with demographic changes in their community, she adds. More than half of the students who have participated in the program since 2007 are first- or second-generation immigrants or minorities.

“The course gives them the skills and training to understand the social and historical context for their own personal experience,” Gill says.

Gill’s book addresses the Latino migration experience in North Carolina.

Gill’s book addresses the Latino migration experience in North Carolina.

Gill wants to empower students to become leaders in North Carolina.

“I want students who are underrepresented in leadership throughout the state to be able to advocate for themselves and have the same opportunities as everyone else.”

The impact of Guanajuato programs on students’ professional lives is significant. About 70 percent of the program’s alumni work in a field affected by migration — the majority in K-12 education, public health or law.

“This program helps them think about how they can apply their own personal interests, and even their own migration stories, to a career in this field,” says Gill. “It strengthens relationships between North Carolina and Guanajuato.”

Read more about two students’ experiences with Guanajuato programs below:

Providing eye car to immigrants

As the son of parents who emigrated to the U.S. from India, Atif Mohiuddin ’08 has a personal understanding of the immigrant experience.

His passion for helping immigrant communities was kindled by his work as a health educator with the large Guatemalan community in Morganton, near his western North Carolina hometown of Valdese. And that commitment was further cemented after being a member of the inaugural class of APPLES Guanajuato taught by Hannah Gill.

“Hannah’s class was the embodiment of what I had been searching for,” says Mohiuddin. “The course gave me emotional connections that create change in people’s hearts and minds.”

Atif Mohiuddin in Southern Spain.

Atif Mohiuddin in Southern Spain.

Mohiuddin created an interdisciplinary major in migration and diaspora studies, so that he could better understand the perspective of immigrants.

His commitment to serving immigrants continues as he trains to be an ophthalmologist. As a medical student at The George Washington University, from which he graduated in May 2013, Mohiuddin was president of Student Sight Savers, which organizes and runs eye screenings for underserved immigrant communities in Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

“There are not a lot of eye specialists who focus on these populations, which are at increased risk for glaucoma and diabetic eye disease,” he says.

“My time in Guanajuato made me even more passionate about giving back to immigrant communities,” adds Mohiuddin. “[Wherever I live], I know that I’ll be active in providing eye health care within these communities.”

A career in public interest law

Guanajuato Connections helped define Sarah Plastino’s career path.

“Hannah’s mentorship and my experiences with immigrants in North Carolina and Guanajuato motivated me to continue with immigration advocacy work after college,” says Plastino ’07, a public interest attorney in Newark, N.J.

“I provide free legal services to low-income immigrants facing deportation,” she said. “At present, my clients are all children.” Plastino cites the huge unmet need for legal services in deportation proceedings.

Sarah Plastino and Atif Mohiuddin were part of the first Guanajuato class (2007), pictured here with Adriana Cortes, director of Fundacion Comunitaria del Bajio (FCB).

Sarah Plastino and Atif Mohiuddin were part of the first Guanajuato class (2007), pictured here with Adriana Cortes, director of Fundacion Comunitaria del Bajio (FCB).

She wants to ensure that more immigrants have legal representation so that they understand their rights and get a fair hearing.

“In the summer after my junior year, I traveled with Hannah to Mexico to do my own research,” says Plastino. Her research was supported by a Burch Fellowship from UNC. “I interviewed family members of people who had emigrated to Chapel Hill and also returned migrants who had lived and worked in Chapel Hill so I could understand the effect of U.S. immigration policy on them.”

That experience was so powerful that Plastino and Gill added a travel component to the Latin American Immigrant Perspectives course Gill was teaching. Plastino served as the student leader for the course’s first spring break trip in 2007.

“The trip engages students in service related to immigration, but it also gives them a better understanding of the cross-border and local/global aspects of immigration,” says Plastino. “There is a tendency to focus purely on the U.S. side of the equation.”

[ By Michele Lynn ]

This entry was posted in Cover Stories, Fall 2013, Features, Issues and tagged APPLES, Atif Mohiuddin, Carolina, Center for Global Initiatives, Guanajuato, Guanajuato Connections, Hannah Gill, Institute for the Study of the Americas, Latino Migration Project, Sarah Plastino, service learning, UNC, UNC College of Arts and Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on September 12, 2013 by Kim Spurr.