IU’s Books and Beyond program expanding to provide more opportunities to children in Rwanda

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Bailey Briscoe and April Toler:

Earlier this month, fourth- and fifth-graders at Bloomington’s Harmony School gathered in a circle on the floor, their excitement apparent by their grinning faces and giddy chatter. The kids were settling in for a visit from Indiana University students in the Books and Beyond program, which connects students from local Bloomington schools with students in Kinigi, Rwanda, through books.

Lillie Hartman

IU student Lillie Hartman reads the “The World Is Our Home,” to Harmony School students as part of Books and Beyond. Photo by IU Communications

One-by-one, Harmony students received a new copy of the textbook “The World Is Our Home,” which includes short stories on the topic of friendship, created by students at Harmony, The Project School and at the Kabwende Primary School in Rwanda. The yearly anthology is meant to introduce a cultural dialogue, so the stories are created by the students based off their everyday lives.

“We teach a lot about social action in the classroom,” said Lana Beck-Cruce, the third and fourth grade teacher at Bloomington’s Harmony School. “This program helps them learn about the world and their place in it. My students are so excited when they receive the finished books. They immediately start flipping through the pages, reading the stories the other children wrote and looking for their own stories. This process has really inspired them to think of ways they can give back.”

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Service-learning class connects students to Bloomington’s homeless population through storytelling

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Laura Ellsworth:

A Spring 2016 intensive writing course titled “The Rhetoric of Home and Citizenship” turned into more than an academic learning experience for IU instructor Laura Clapper and her students. Their work became the focus of the documentary “Like You, I Have a Story to Tell,” created as a partnership between Gudaitis Productions, Shalom Community Center and Clapper’s course.

The course, which was supported by an information-literacy grant from IU Libraries, not only resulted in the documentary, but allowed Clapper and her students to work with library staff to archive the stories they told and the research projects the students created.

The Monroe County Public Library will screen “Like You, I Have a Story to Tell” at 5 p.m. March 2. Following the screening, the documentary will be posted on Shalom Community Center’s website.

Image from "Like You, I Have a Story to Tell."

A participant in “Like You, I Have a Story to Tell.” Photo courtesy of Crawford Homes.

This was Clapper’s first experience teaching a service-learning course. The idea came from a conversation between Shalom Community Center assistant director Danielle Sorden and IU’s Service-Learning Program, when Sorden communicated that the residents of Crawford Homes were hoping to share their life stories with the community. Crawford Homes is a program through Shalom Community Center that works to provide supportive housing to chronically homeless and disabled individuals.

The life-writing possibilities of this partnership were enticing to Clapper, who had finished a teaching service-learning internship and was looking to create a service-learning course when she heard about Crawford Homes reaching out to IU.

“My biggest concern when I was planning this service-learning class was co-creating a course that would be meaningful to the community and to students,” said Clapper.

Meaning from the course certainly came to junior Katie Thierwechter, who started out taking the class simply to fill a requirement.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” the journalism student said.

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IU Contemporary Dance students share experiences, performance with Focus Dance Group

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Laura Ellsworth:

The dance studio in the School of Public Health building looks ordinary and multi-purpose — padded floors, mirrors along one wall and various chairs scattered to the side. But the angles of the normal dance studio scenery draw a sharp contrast to the students moving fluidly back and forth, among and with each other.

IU students and Focus Dance Group students rehearse.

Dancers from the IU Contemporary Dance Program and Focus Dance Group rehearse. Photo by IU Communications

This is no ordinary dance rehearsal. This week, the 22 students of Focus Dance Group from Taipei National University of the Arts have been rehearsing and collaborating with IU contemporary dance students in preparation for their joint performance Friday, Feb. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. This performance is part of the IU Arts and Humanities Council’s “China Remixed” festival.

Sydney Sizemore, a senior contemporary dance major, served as a guide for a visiting student from Focus Dance Group in the week leading up to their performance. As a part of the visit, students from both schools have been collaborating on a performance piece to add to their individual pieces.

“They’re really talented and intelligent dancers,” Sizemore said of the visiting students. “They know a lot and remember a lot and are intuitive in their dancing.”

Sizemore said students have been breaking into small groups to improvise and collaborate, then coming back together to teach each other their creations, though there has been a language barrier. She added that, despite speaking different languages, they did manage to find common ground in talking about Beyoncé and Ariana Grande.

“Talking about dance is sometimes easier to do through movement than through words,” Sizemore said.

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Students helping Crimson Cupboard continue to expand its goal of ending food insecurity

It has been a little over a year since the Crimson Cupboard food pantry opened on the IU Bloomington campus.

Erika Wheeler

Erika Wheeler became executive director of Crimson Cupboard in 2016. Photo by IU Communications

Since that time, Mercedes Jones, the director who helped make the pantry a reality has graduated and moved on from IU. But students like Erika Wheeler have taken up the charge and expanded the pantry to further address the issue of food insecurity both on campus and in the community.

“The reason I chose community health as my major is because of my interest in increasing food security,” said Wheeler, a senior in the School of Public Health-Bloomington and the executive director of Crimson Cupboard. “I believe food is a basic right, and there are far too many people going without it, needlessly. That is why Crimson Cupboard is so important to me and this campus.”

Wheeler has been a volunteer for the cupboard since its founding, previously working as the donations coordinator. Having experienced food insecurity after graduating from high school, and turning to a local pantry for help, Wheeler has worked as an advocate for the issue ever since.

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IU student discusses her family’s connection to Abraham Lincoln, in honor of his upcoming birthday

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Bailey Briscoe:

bailey briscoe at lincoln memorial

Bailey Briscoe during a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. Photo courtesy of Bailey Briscoe

Growing up, I always declared Abraham Lincoln as my favorite president. Even though I wasn’t alive to witness his time in office, the pages in the history books that covered slavery and Lincoln’s moves to abolish it were the most intriguing to me as a young girl. I was always moved by the stories of inequality and injustice, as I couldn’t fathom why the world had to be so cruel. This is likely why I approved of Lincoln; I appreciated the diligence with which he promoted freedom and equality.

While I didn’t know this at the time, Lincoln and I share more than an outlook on equality. We also share a family tree.

My grandmother — maiden name Lincoln — and my grandfather descend directly from Josiah Lincoln, Abe’s uncle. My grandfather’s link is to Nancy Lincoln, Josiah’s daughter, and my grandmother’s is to Josiah’s son, Thomas.

This makes Lincoln and me first cousins, six times removed.

My family has always known about my grandmother’s connection to the Lincoln family, due to her last name. But it wasn’t until after my grandfather passed away that we discovered his Lincoln relation, through historians in the area. It makes sense, as Indiana was Lincoln’s “boyhood home,” and my family’s roots run deep in southern Indiana. While Abe himself likely didn’t have much contact with his cousins in Harrison County where my grandparents grew up, historians say Abe’s father moved his family from Kentucky to Spencer County, Ind., after a visit to Josiah’s southern Indiana homestead. Lincoln resided in the state from ages seven to 21, when he moved to Illinois.

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IU freshmen represent Kelley School of Business at national case competition

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Laura Ellsworth:

In his farewell address last Tuesday, President Obama said, “change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged.”

kelley team

The team representing Kelley in this year’s National Diversity Case Competition: Simone Watts, Dorothy Vincent, Nailah Owens-Johnson and Breana Owens. Photo provided by the Kelley School of Business

Breana Owens and her team are far from ordinary, but they’re certainly getting involved.

The team of four freshman women – Breana Owens, Nailah Owens-Johnson, Dorothy Vincent and Simone Watts – beat other Kelley School of Business students for the chance to represent Indiana University at the National Diversity Case Competition Jan. 13-14, before the Martin Luther King holiday.

Owens, a Louisville, Ky. native majoring in business analytics, finance and management, came across the Kelley School of Business in much the same way many students find their college choices – a thorough Google search.

“I Googled summer camps for business and came across the ‘MEET Kelley’ program. I applied and got in, and that was that,” said Owens.

The “MEET Kelley” summer program focuses on introducing students from historically underrepresented groups to business programs at IU Bloomington. Attendees participate in classes taught by Kelley faculty and collaborate in a case competition. It was at “MEET Kelley” that Breana Owens met her teammate and roommate, Nailah Owens-Johnson.

“Being able to have a group of friends already was really important my first semester,” said Owens.

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IU expert provides tips for getting on the path to financial success

The holiday season has come and gone, but the aftermath of gift giving and social gatherings may leave a major dent in some people’s wallets.

phil schuman

Phil Schuman, IU director of financial literacy. Photo by IU Communications

“If people don’t follow a budget then they do tend to feel the effects of the holidays on their financial lives,” said Phil Schuman, IU director of financial literacy. “The holidays tend to be a tough time to maintain discipline with finances because there are so many added social and emotional pressures that could cause people to dig themselves into a financial hole.”

That can be especially true for college students whose budgets might be tight to begin with. The good news is the new year can be a time to take a hard look at your financial choices and make significant changes to get on the path to financial success.

Schuman has provided a few tips for getting on the right financial track:

  • It’s never too early. Finances play a huge role in our lives, whether student or professional. The decisions you make today could affect the rest of your life. “The number one source of stress is finances,” he said. “If students engage in positive financial decisions while they’re in school, not only will they be less stressed during school, but they increase the likelihood that they will be less stressed after they graduate.”
  • What role does money play in your life? No matter your level of income, Schuman said, everyone should think about what role money plays in your overall life goals. Then develop habits that can help you accomplish those goals.
  • Create a budget and be specific. Budget your fixed/necessary expenses first and set an amount to spend on entertainment, clothes, etc. Try to set aside money for savings, and be specific. Don’t just say “I will save more money this year.” Set specific yet realistic goals and outline ways you will achieve those goals.
  • Be yourself. One of the biggest pitfalls people fall into, especially young people, is trying to keep up with the Joneses. While it can be tempting to rack up credit card debt to keep up with the latest trends, in the end it can lead to financial ruin. “What you need to do to be financially responsible is know what you’re trying to do in your life, understand how finances are going to play a role helping you accomplish it and then make financial decisions that put you in the best decision to help you get there.”
  • Ask for help. Setting up a realistic budget and navigating through retirement plans and the best savings options can be overwhelming. Schuman suggest turning to experts for help. IU’s MoneySmarts team offers financial services to IU students, faculty/staff and alumni.

More information, including ways to schedule an appointment with a MoneySmarts team member, is available on the MoneySmarts website.

MacDonald Scholarship connects students with community for long-lasting success

Photo the MacDonalds Scholars dinner, taken on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016.

Alumnus Scott MacDonald meets with the inaugural MacDonald Scholars during a recent ceremony. Photo by IU Communications

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom intern Sheila Raghavendran:

In 1970, IU Bloomington was very different from IU Bloomington today – its population was only 30,368, the building of Assembly Hall wasn’t yet completed and SPEA had yet to be established. But there is one aspect that has remained for some students and families: struggling to pay for college.

IU alumnus Scott MacDonald, who studied political science and graduated in 1970, reached his degree with the help of a small scholarship and student loan. Now, after a long and successful career as CEO of various companies, he said he is dedicated to helping students who are in similar financial situations and who want to better the community.

He founded the MacDonald Scholarship, administered by the Office of Student Life and Learning within the Division of Student Affairs, to help students cover the cost of college while promoting their participation in civic service. Emily Arth, Senior Associate Director of the Office of Scholarships, said she, her team and the SLL staff choose the scholars each year. She said it’s a personalized process in which they comb through students’ application materials, interview top candidates over Skype and then notify the winners.

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‘If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I don’t know that I would be able to go to college’

From an early age, a college education was always in Elijah Secrest’s sights.

Elijah Secrest

Elijah Secrest volunteering at a Girls Inc. event as part of 21st Century Volunteer Corps. Photo by IU Communications

“My parents always set high academic standards for us,” said Secrest, a sophomore studying media advertising at The Media School. “They didn’t have a college degree but they always expected us to do better.”

But with five children at home — Secrest has an older brother and is a quadruplet — Secrest’s parents knew that college would be financially difficult. So they encouraged Secrest to become a 21st Century Scholar.

Simply put, Secrest said, the program gave him a chance to make his academic dreams come true.

“If it wasn’t for this scholarship, I don’t know that I would be able to go to college,” he said. “21st Century Scholars gives students who otherwise would not be able to afford college, but who have the grades, a chance.”

Created by the state of Indiana in 1990, 21st Century Scholars helps low- and middle-income families meet the cost of college. Income-eligible seventh- and eighth-graders who enroll and fulfill a pledge of good citizenship are guaranteed to receive up to four years of undergraduate tuition at any participating public college or university in Indiana.

IU Bloomington has more than 3,000 21st Century Scholars on campus. In 2007, the university created the 21st Century Scholarship Covenant program, which provides additional funding for eligible 21st Century Scholars to pay for books, room and board, and other expenses.

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Bicentennial intern projects showcase IU history

Post courtesy of IU Newsroom Intern Sheila Raghavendran:

One hundred ninety-six.

That’s how many years since IU was founded in 1820, and today’s campus is greatly transformed from that first version. In anticipation of the 200-year anniversary of the university’s founding, interns for the Office of the Bicentennial have been researching IU’s history for projects that will be featured on the IU Bicentennial website. Their projects will be featured at an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in the Indiana Memorial Union Dogwood Room.

scott jauch

IU Senior Scott Jauch works on his project in the common lounge at the new Media School. Photo by IU Communications

According to Kelly Kish, Director of the Office of the Bicentennial, 2020 will be not only a celebratory year for IU but a moment for reflection.

“This is not meant to only be a celebration,” Kish said. “There are historical aspects that need to be criticized, there are difficult questions about how we’ve gotten to where we are, that this is an opportunity for us as a community to investigate these things, reflect on these moments in our heritage and ask ourselves some hard questions.”

Senior Scott Jauch, through his research on the history of IU buildings, is breaking down how the university has physically gotten where it is.

“IU was originally where Kroger and Wendy’s and Chase Bank are now, off First and Second and College and Morton, and that was called Seminary Square,” said Jauch, whose majoring in international studies. “At the time it was a seminary, but it wasn’t religious in nature; that’s just what most institutions of higher learning were called. It built slowly from 1822 to about the 1880s, when there was a massive fire. That prompted IU to purchase the Dunn family’s property, which is at the location of the current campus.”

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