Project Pericles

Periclean Graduation Sashes 

What is the history behind this tradition?

As graduation grew near the inaugural Class of Pericleans, the Class of 2006, knew they wanted to display something on their graduation gowns to represent their commitment to Namibia and the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.  During their January term travel to Namibia they bought small beaded Namibian flags with AIDS ribbons that were designed to be safety pinned to clothing.  The ones that they brought back were made as a fund raising scheme by HIV+ women in drop-in centers organized by Catholic AIDS Action, one of the very first Periclean partners.  All 29 Class of 2006 Pericleans wore their beaded flags on their graduation gown, as did the Mentor, Dr. Tom Arcaro.  The Classes of 2007, 2008 and 2009 continued this tradition by wearing something representing their countries of focus, Honduras, Mexico and Zambia, respectively.

Where were the first sashes made?

The idea of having sashes made for the graduating Class was conceived by a few 2010’s and a 2011 who was in Ghana for the semester.  A design and instructions were sent to a contact in Ghana who then located some local artisans who could weave a kinte-cloth like sash with the Periclean logo, the logo for the Class of 2010 and “Periclean Scholars” woven into the material.  The sashes were couriered back to Elon by an Elon student just days before graduation.  Neither the Mentor, Dr. Heidi Frontani nor most of the 2010’s knew about the sashes until the evening of their graduation dinner with classmates and their families.

How were the first sashes presented?

As part of the dinner celebration program each 2010 was called forward and their Mentor placed the sash around their neck, providing a material representation of the completion of the undergraduate phase of the student’s journey as a Periclean Scholar.

What are the stories of the Classes of 2011, 2013 and 2014?

The Class of 2011 worked with a batik artisan in Kandy, Sri Lanka who handmade each sash.  A sample remains on display in Kandy in the artisan’s shop.  The 2012’s had their made by women and girls at the Comprehensive Rural Health Project in Jamkhed, India from remnant of saris.  Each sash has the same design but each has a different color and pattern of cloth.  The 2013’s had theirs designed and made in a very small village in southern Chiapas, Mexico, the village that they visited as seniors.  The 2014’s had theirs designed and produced by their partners in West Virginia.  The sashes for the Class of 2015 are being produced in Haiti by partners of the 2015’s.

Does anyone else get a sash other than the graduating Pericleans?

Yes.  The Mentor, the Director and President Lambert are typically provided with a sash and one is reserved for display purposes.  As a side note, for several years Dr. Lambert kept on display in his office at the Maynard House the 2010 sash.

Who pays for the sashes?

The sashes are made by artisans in the country or region of focus and are paid for through funds raised by the Class or from the general Periclean account.  In past years the sashes have been made for between $5.00 and $10.00 per sash.  Using local artisans is an additional pathway to deepening the ties between the Pericleans and their local partners.

Who designs the sashes?

Design for the sashes has typically been a joint effort between the Class and the local artisan who is provided with dimensions and logo images.  As with all decisions regarding the sash, who is contacted to produce the sashes and how they are designed is a Class decision.

How long in advance should a Class begin planning for their sash?

Given all of the factors that must be taken into account to get the sashes in time for graduation, planning must take place at least several months in advance.  More recent Classes have begun planning as soon as their junior year.  Planning and delivery factors include (1) deciding to participate in the tradition of having a sash, (2) deciding how design will be determined (i.e., Class design or design of local partner(s)), (3) the time it takes to actually produce the sashes, and (4) the time it takes to get the sashes from the local artisan to the Class.

What are future plans for this tradition?

The expectation is that every Class will want to have some representation of their Periclean commitment displayed on their graduation gown and sashes have now been a tradition since 2010.

Where are past sashes displayed?

Sashes are permanently displayed in the Periclean Scholars meeting space, Global Commons 202 which one day will be filled with colorful reminders of each Classes country or region of focus.