Dunkirk-Fredonia AAUW hears presentation on Belize journey

The February meeting of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Branch of the American Association of University Women was held at the SUNY Fredonia Alumni House.

The speaker, SUNY Fredonia Professor Dr. Janeil Rey, brought four students, Kelli Barnes, Brooke Shutrum, Alissa Cole and Jackie Ellmauer, to report on their J-Term experiences as participants in SUNY Fredonia’s Belize Service Learning Project. As participants, the 29 SUNY students who accompanied Rey worked in classrooms in Belize City. In a country where most of the teaching is done by rote memorization, the Fredonia students were able to educate the Belize teachers (most of whom have associate’s degrees) in the variety of ways limited resources can be used to develop more creative teaching styles. At the same time, the Fredonia students learned a great deal from the Belizean teachers whom they found hard working, warm, caring, and concerned for their students’ learning and lives.

The young students with whom they worked also impressed the SUNY students. Every day the children came prepared to work and excited to see their American visitors. Having the opportunity to attend school is considered a privilege in Belize. It was not unusual for children in poor families to share a school uniform and only attend school when it was “their turn” to wear it.

Rey concluded the presentation with background information about the Belize Service Learning Project and slides showing the Belize students with their Belizean and SUNY Fredonia teachers. Rey included pictures of the construction that had begun, thanks to a donation from the Fredonia Rotary Club, on a new school. The AAUW branch was thanked for the school supplies and money donated in December to help the Fredonia students with their mission. The money was used to buy materials needed for students in the Belizean schools. Rey credited Ellie Reddy with starting the Belize program for the SUNY education students “as a wonderful opportunity to work with and to learn from professionals in another country.” The students’ stories were a testament to her vision.

The Dunkirk Fredonia Branch of AAUW branch was appreciative of the work Dr. Rey and her students did as part of the Belize Service Learning Project and were glad to be able to support their efforts. President, Margaret Tiffany, described the program as a “win, win situation.”

The March meeting of the Dunkirk-Fredonia AAUW will be held March 9. The speaker will be Dr. Andrea Zevenbergen who will be discussing Title IX as it affects female athletes and what the university does to stay compliant.

On April 24, AAUW will be hosting a Wine, Cheese, and Purse Party at the Buster Brown Bean Company in Fredonia to raise money for scholarships. This is an opportunity to meet some of the membership, support scholarships for SUNY Fredonia students, and maybe go home with a purse. Purses will be auctioned and sold. The Brown Bean will be serving refreshments.

A donation of $5 will be asked at the door (again, to support scholarships) and there will be a cash bar.

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through education, advocacy, and research. Membership is open to college students as well as anyone holding an associate’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university. One focus of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Branch is to offer scholarships to SUNY Fredonia and Empire College students.

To learning more about AAUW or become a member, contact Peg Tiffany at 673-1838.