Application Process for the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

-Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal artist, activist, and academic

The country of focus for the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027 is Sri Lanka, a South Asian island nation rich in cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity. A former British Crown Colony (once known as Ceylon), Sri Lanka has faced numerous and persistent political and economic challenges since gaining independence in 1948. Sri Lanka has an emerging market-based economy, robust public education and healthcare systems (which recently achieved the island-wide eradication of both malaria and measles) and is ranked 73rd in the world (2022 data) on the Human Development Index. Yet, many significant problems related to economic, social, and political opportunity and equity remain. Several of these issues have worsened in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the Sri Lankan civil war, which lasted from 1983 – 2009.

Members of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027 will work in equal partnership with Sarvodaya (the largest and oldest NGO in Sri Lanka; to both learn about the challenges faced by local communities in Sri Lanka and to develop and execute a sustainable, collaborative, and culturally sensitive project that will meaningfully benefit one or more of these communities.


Applications are currently being accepted for current first-year students (members of the Elon University Class of 2027)! The application period will close on April 8, 2024. Acceptances to the program will be made on a rolling basis as individual applications are received, and the early submission of applications is strongly encouraged.


There are two components to the application: (1) a letter of application and (2) an interview with the Class Mentor. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance prior to preregistration for the fall 2024 semester (which begins on April 18, 2024).


The letter of application should include the following 4 elements:

·A brief statement describing why you are interested in becoming a Periclean Scholar and making this long-term academic and global engagement commitment.

·A brief statement identifying your strengths and how these might be useful to the Class and its projects.

·The name of an Elon faculty or staff member who can serve as a reference if needed.

·After reading the article: “The Voluntourist’s Dilemma” by Jacob Kushner, 2016 (, write a response to the following prompt. Please limit your response to 1,000-1,200 words.

As stated in the article “The Voluntourist’s Dilemma” (Kushner, 2016):

“Perhaps we ought to abandon the assumption that we, simply by being privileged enough to travel the world, are somehow qualified to help ease the world’s ills. Because the mantra of “good intentions” becomes unworthy when its eventuality can give a South African AIDS orphan an attachment disorder or put a Haitian mason out of work.”


As a member of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027, how will you work to build effective and sustainable collaborations with partner community members in Sri Lanka? What will you do to ensure that such collaborations are just, equitable, and provide mutual benefits for all stakeholders? How will you avoid the pitfalls of international service work, including: 1) failing to recognize and maintain the dignity and agency of your community partners; 2) glamorizing and/or objectifying material poverty; 3) perpetuating differentials of power; 4) being culturally insensitive; and, 5) supporting the “white savior complex”?

In your response, please consider your background and your personal experiences, how they have shaped your perceptions and interactions with the world, and how others in turn perceive you.


Please email your letter of application (as a .pdf file) to Dr. Mathew Gendle, Mentor for the Class of 2027 Periclean Scholars, at Following receipt of your materials, you will be contacted for your personal interview with Dr. Gendle.

Note: As soon as you decide to apply, please contact Dr. Gendle so your interview can be scheduled as early as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at