Students pied for Global Playground

Thursday, November 17, 2011 | posted by Unknown |
Walking to class, a paper plate covered in whip cream suddenly smacks you in the face. While you are now thinking about how you are going to explain this to your professor, you have simultaneously contributed to Global Playground’s efforts at enhancing education through their many projects. 

The College of William & Mary’s service fraternity APO Nu Rho Chapter hosts one major philanthropy event each semester. The fall philanthropy, A-Pie-O, allows students to pay $4 to get members to pie their friends. All of the proceeds for the fall philanthropy are being donated to Global Playground.

“It was really cheap because whip cream and paper plates aren’t that expensive,” Aidan De Sena, Vice President of Philanthropy for APO, said. “We thought you could just get your frustration out by pieing people, and it would be fun to see your friends pied.”

The idea to donate the funds to Global Playground came from a challenge from Global Playground Chairman Doug Bunch. This amount will be matched by a $5000 donation from an alum of the College, A. Joseph Jay, III, ’03, J.D. ’06, and the money will be used to fund a Global Playground Teaching Fellowship for a William & Mary student.

“Global Playground is trying a challenge grant, if you raise five thousand they will donate five thousand,” De Sena said. “There are a couple of organizations on campus working on raising five thousand dollars, and Drew [Stelljes, Director of the Office of Community Engagement and Scholarship] asked APO individually if we could raise one thousand.”

The event raised about $300.

“It was a silly event but I think it was so different from anything else that that is why it was successful,” De Sena said.

APO Philanthropy committee member Sarah Klotz first learned about Global Playground in her Leadership and Community Engagement class. She helped orchestrate the event.

“If we could secure a spot for a William & Mary student that would be incredible, especially because Doug graduated from William & Mary and started [GP] with people from William & Mary, so it would be really nice to continue that connection,” Klotz said.

In addition to the A-Pie-O fall philanthropy, De Sena and other students on campus are planning a spring farmer’s market philanthropy event. They will work with students and the Williamsburg community to create a farmer’s market fundraiser with proceeds going to Global Playground.

“We think we can generate a lot of money from the farmers market, if we can use it as a way of bridging the gap between the community and the campus,” De Sena said. “We are hoping to have performers from campus to show what our campus has to offer to the community.”

Global Playground Intern Taylor Nelson and Beta Theta Pi Vice President Nick Hampson are also helping De Sena to coordinate the event.

“Right now we have been having meetings with Colonial Williamsburg and the Merchant’s Association to get that ready for the spring,” De Sena said.

Global Playground launches fundraising for Vietnam

Thursday, November 17, 2011 | posted by Unknown |
Global Playground launched fundraising efforts for the upcoming Vietnam project on Nov. 7 with a kick-off event at the College of William & Mary hosted by Professor of Hispanic Studies George Greenia and Tom Wood.

In one evening, with a mix of faculty, administrators, Williamsburg community members, undergraduate and law students in attendance, Global Playground raised $8,168. The event was sponsored by Vinson & Elkins LLP, a law firm in Washington D.C., who donated $5,000.

“We had about 45 people there, which was excellent,” Greenia said. “It really shows how people rise to a level of personal commitment.”

The fundraiser emerged from a conversation between Global Playground Chairman Doug Bunch and Greenia in D.C. in September.

“Doug did most of the organizing, things came together very quickly,” Greenia said. “We realized between Doug and I when we built our complimentary list that there were scores of people involved with Global Playground in Williamsburg.”

President of the College of William & Mary Taylor Reveley, former Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler, Student Assembly President Kaveh Sadeghian, and many other notable members of the campus community attended the event. Both Bunch and Domestic Fellow Ryan Drysdale visited Williamsburg for the fundraiser.

“It was one of the first opportunities I had had for the students to interact around a cause not only with other students, but with other professors, other administrators, and with other members of the community,” Sadeghian said. “It was a novel way for students and members of the community to engage with a cause relative to the way that we have typically done this on campus.”

Greenia agreed that it gave students a chance to learn in a different way.

“Its extremely valuable for undergrad and grad students to see how these things happen and how they are run so when it is their turn they see how to step in,” Greenia said. “You learn to be comfortable in that situation and know that it is okay to ask for money. You see what inspires the generosity of others.”

Greenia noted the recent success of Global Playground as an aspiring message to people and students on campus who hope to start successful projects of their own.

“I have been here for thirty years, and I have seen a number of student initiatives that emerged with great expectations and great commitment, but sort of folded when people graduated and moved on,” Greenia said. “This is a rare instance where it has only grown since it has been out of college.”

Reveley was also impressed with Global Playground’s growth.

“Global Playground’s recent efforts in Vietnam seem to be off to a very promising start,” Reveley said. “This project has the potential to do an enormous amount of good. It comes as no surprise, in light of Global Playground’s splendid track record, that its recent fundraiser in Williamsburg went extremely well.”

The guests in attendance at the event spoke to the wide range of people that are attracted to Global Playground on this campus and in the overall community.

“It was created by William and Mary students and continues to attract the interest of a broad spectrum within our undergraduate and graduate communities, from classical studies, to government, to religious studies, to modern languages, to the law school; it has earned the active support of an astonishingly large number of faculty and administrators as well,” Greenia said.

Although this was Greenia’s first direct involvement with Global Playground, he admires the organization.

“Their reach is truly global, which means it retains its flexibility and responsiveness to specific local situations without becoming engrossed in a single social or political situation,” Greenia said. “The mission focus is savvy and tight: education and children, period.” 

Global Playground begins fundraising for Vietnam project

Tuesday, November 01, 2011 | posted by Unknown |
Global Playground has launched fundraising efforts for the latest project in Vietnam. With the help of Global Community Service Foundation, Global Playground plans to build a four-room primary school in the central mountain village Khe Sanh in Quang Tri province, Vietnam.

The school will provide a safe learning environment for 140 students in grades 1 through 5 with a total of eight teachers, but the school is expected to grow. Currently, the students who will benefit from the new school study in two shifts in a day on a flood-prone area at the edge of an erosive riverbank with crumbling walls and broken furniture.

“They have to study in a flood-vulnerable down-graded 2-room school,” Central Vietnam Representative for Global Community Service Foundation Tam Xuan Nguyen said. “They are studying in an unstable mood as the school is quite weak now and the yard is muddy from the flood. Some kids have dropped school for a while because of these factors.”

Nguyen, currently stationed in Dong Ha, Vietnam, works for GCSF. GCSF is an NGO incorporated in both the United States and Vietnam that works to alleviate poverty in Southeast Asia by establishing sustainable, community-based projects “focusing on improving access to health care, education, and income-generation activities,” according to their mission statement. Tam sees the benefits this school can provide for the community every day.

“The new school will help to decrease illiteracy rate for the local children in ethnic minority areas by encouraging more young children to attend school. Their parents will feel comfortable sending their children to a better school like that,” Nguyen said. “The school will be a pride for the local people.”

While Vietnam does have a literacy rate of 90 percent among boys and girls, the ethnic minority groups that live in more isolated parts of the country suffer from educational inequality. The main problems these ethnic groups face include annual flooding that causes the schools to close, widespread poverty, unexploded landmines from the Vientam War, and the remnants of Agent Orange which causes a host of health problems.

This school aims to help the Pako and Van Kieu ethnic groups.

“It will help decrease the rate of school dropout among students. More children will complete the primary education and have better chance to enter into middle school education and high school education,” Nguyen said. “This will bring a brighter future for the little village because the younger generation will have higher education than their parents.”

The new school will consist of four classrooms, a toilet, 72 desks and chairs at a total cost of $46,368. The community plans to contribute materials and land for the construction of the school, but fundraising in the United States will be a major component to the success of the project.

“We chose this school to help because it includes all of the factors such as ethnic minority, education, life quality, rural areas, and disaster vulnerability,” Nguyen said. “The school will not only bring better schooling conditions to the ethnic minority children but also provide safer place for education and cultural nurturing, and equality in sex and education opportunity.”

Fundraising for the project is currently underway. Global Playground will hold a fundraising and awareness event at the College of William and Mary on November 7.

“This will be the fifth project in Global Playground’s five-year history, and it will extend the network of Global Playground to another needy part of the world,” Global Playground Executive Director Edward Branagan said. “This project will present another opportunity for a future Fellow to engage the students in Vietnam in cross-cultural dialogue with other children in the world.”