Periclean Scholars program welcomes members of the Class of 2027

Members of the 21st cohort of Periclean Scholars at Elon celebrated their acceptance into the program during a ceremony held in McKinnon Hall on April 15.

Following a competitive application process, 11 rising sophomores at Elon University were inducted into the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027 during a ceremony held on Monday, April 15.

During the next three years, the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027 will work with Faculty Mentor Mathew Gendle in partnership with Sarvodaya (the largest and oldest NGO in Sri Lanka) to both learn about the challenges faced by local communities and to co-develop and execute a sustainable, collaborative and culturally sensitive project to enhance social, economic, political or environmental justice. Elon’s Project Pericles program has a longstanding relationship with Sarvodaya, and the Class of 2027 will be the fourth Periclean Scholars Class to engage with communities in Sri Lanka.

Founded in 1958, Sri Lanka’s Sarvodaya movement is grounded in Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne’s vision for a society that is free of conflict, poverty\, and affluence, with welfare for all through local community mobilization. Sarvodaya is a central actor in the country’s primary economic, political and social development networks. Sarvodaya promotes local community-initiated self-development and inclusive participatory democracy, with a focus on eliminating poverty and addressing community needs within hyper-local contexts.

One of Sarvodaya’s key principles is that of ‘shramadana’, or shared labor. The concept of shramadana is not simply a restatement of the idea that large tasks are best completed through collective effort. Rather, it stems from Ariyaratne’s connection of Buddhist principles to community organizing, and his understanding that a collective awakening of mind and compassionate practice can arise from group collaborative labor for the common good. This concept was eloquently summarized by Ariyaratne himself, in the phrase “we build the road and the road builds us.”

The newly inducted members of the Periclean Scholars Class of 2027 are:

  • Nicol Barrea-Ordonez
  • Maria Cassereau
  • Vaughn Caltrara
  • Aidan Fishkind
  • Rose Fyffe
  • Mia O’Brien
  • Ashley Ramirez-Martinez
  • Liya Rike
  • Lizeth Torres-Thomas
  • Kiwi Vera-Rodriguez
  • Cassie Waymouth

The Periclean Scholars program provides qualifying students with an immersive three-year experience that involves learning about a specific country or region. Scholars then focus on strategies for just and effective community partnerships, initiating and maintaining partnerships with local and regional organizations operating within the region of focus, and creating and enacting a novel social justice-focused collaborative project with these partners.

All Periclean Scholars complete a series of academic courses — 18 semester hours in total across their sophomore, junior, and senior years — taught by the cohort’s faculty mentor. To create effective projects, each cohort defines its own area of focus by learning about the needs of their partner community, best practices in community engagement (including the key distinction between “giving” and “partnering”), and models of just and sustainable development.

Recent class projects have critically engaged with community partners acting on a multiplicity of issues, such as child maltreatment and cultural restoration (Oglala Lakota Nation, Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota); youth leadership development (Ghana); the political, economic, and social marginalization of LGBTQIA2S+ persons (Sri Lanka); and structural racism and racial inequality (Alamance County, North Carolina and Morocco).