An International Relations major at Tufts University, Rachel had researched conflict and political corruption in India, Guatemala, and Kenya. Inspired by her previous experiences and eager to return to community-based work, she decided to move back to Nairobi. By using cell phones and a website to visually map out different peace organizations and events at the local level, she hoped that she could help peace groups connect with each other, facilitating stronger outcomes.
Teaming up with a former classmate, Rachel received initial funding for research and left for Nairobi. While in Kenya, she realized she could use mobile technology to help local peace groups effectively compete with and counteract messages inciting violence.
Four years later, Rachel finally returned to Baltimore after having helped found an organization called Sisi ni Amani, which means “We are Peace Kenya” in Kiswahili. The following is an excerpt from an article Rachel wrote discussing her experiences in Kenya and how her organization pioneered using text messaging to prevent violence and increase civic engagement and education in Kenyan elections.
In 2007-08, post-election violence in Kenya spread throughout the country, claimed the lives of over 1,000 individuals, and displaced hundreds of thousands. Election-related violence had happened before in Kenya, but previous violence had never spread so fast and so extensively. During this troubled time, mobile phones were used to stoke and spread violence. SMS (text messages) in particular were sent to spread rumors and fear, to call for revenge, and to organize weapons distribution and attacks. Local peace activists struggled to compete with the violent actors and make their voices heard.
In 2010, I began to work with local peace activists in Kenya and together we asked ourselves: if mobile phones are an effective medium to reach people rapidly and influence behavior and perceptions, can’t we use them too? We founded Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SNA-K) – meaning ‘We are Peace Kenya’ in Kiswahili – to amplify the voices of grassroots peace leaders and compete with flows of information promoting violence. We designed a platform that community members could subscribe to for free from their mobile phones. We did door to door outreach and in partnership with over 50 local peace groups, we subscribed over 65,000 people in more than seven target areas across the country by the time of the next presidential elections in March 2013. Once they subscribed, we could send them targeted messages on a mass scale.
To learn more about Sisi ni Amani: http://sisiniamani.org/.
Children’s book author and teacher Adam Gidwitz posted a letter to his readers, addressed to Voyagers through the Kingdom of Grimm, in which he offered news on the release of the audiobook for A Tale Dark and Grimm (which won the Earphone Award from the magazine Audiofile) and the paperback of A Tale Dark and Grimm. When not writing books for children, Gidwitz teaches at St. Ann’s in Brooklyn, NY.
His second book, In a Glass Grimly, was released in September 2012. A starred review in Publisher's Weekly said, “This grisly reimagining of classic fairy tales... is even more enjoyable than the author’s acclaimed debut!" The New York Times reviewer said, “The more knowledge of fairy tales and nursery rhymes the reader brings to the book, the more Gidwitz’s clever manipulations can be appreciated — as when Jack and Jill fall down a hill without a single direct reference to the rhyme itself.” The book was chosen by The Atlantic’s wire blog for their 2012 Young Adult/Middle Grade Book Awards as the “Best Stories to Keep Telling (Or Reading)”.
Alex Harding is founder of the nonprofit organization, Agua Muisne, a non-profit organization that builds and manages water treatment centers for rural communities in Ecuador without access to clean water. Agua Muisne provides water to 2,000 Ecuadorians every day, which has been associated with a 52% lower rate of waterborne illness in that population. After living in Ecuador for a year following graduation from Yale, Harding started studying medicine at Johns Hopkins University.
While in medical school, Harding learned about the potential antimicrobial activity of combining lime juice and sunlight. Based on what he learned, he worked on a research project to test using lime juice and sunlight to kill microbes found in water. His research showed that the combination of lime juice and sunlight kills 99.9999% of E. coli bacteria in a water sample. Having completed his third year of medical school, Harding took a leave of absence to get an MBA from Harvard Business School. He plans to return to Johns Hopkins in 2014 to complete medical school and then perform a residency in internal medicine.
For more information about Agua Muisne, visit www.WaterEcuador.org.
Matthew Porterfield, the filmmaker behind Putty Hill and Hamilton, won the Janet and Walter Sondheim [Class of 1925] Artscape Prize in 2011. He was a participating artist in the 2012 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial and received a Creative Capital grant for Film/Video and Visual Arts.
Porterfield's latest film, I Used To Be Darker, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He teaches film at The Johns Hopkins University.
Park alumna Adrienne Tarver '10 was featured in the February issue of Lacrosse Magazine (produced by US Lacrosse). Currently a defender at Yale, Tarver was elected captain of her team for the 2013-2014 year. She was the subject of a full-page Q&A. Among the questions, the former Bruin was asked what has been her "proudest moment" of her lacrosse career. Her response:
When my high school team, Park School of Baltimore, won our conference championship my senior year against one of our rival schools. It was the perfect end to my high school career.
The Park community is proud of Adrienne's academic and athletic accomplishments both while at Park and now at Yale. Here at Park, Adrienne was a three-time All Conference player ('08, '09, '10), Academic All America 2010, First Team High School All America 2010, Two time IAAM B Conference champion ('09, '10), and captain of team 2010. She was captain of both the basketball and soccer teams, as well, and was named All Conference for basketball.
Greg White knows the importance of an exceptional education. As the President & CEO of LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago, it’s Greg’s mission to ensure that all 3,600 students enrolled in eight pre-K-8 LEARN schools have the same experiences and opportunities that he had as a student at Park. His charge is to provide all students, regardless of income, the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. He strives to offer a safe and nurturing environment that meets each child’s academic, social, emotional, and psychological needs, and encourages them to take risks, try new things, and have the resolve to pursue their passions. In other words, he wants to help change their lives the way Park changed his.
The charter school group was one of the recipients of a $1,000,000 gift from Oprah Winfrey. Greg is also an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Read more about LEARN Charter Schools at http://www.learncharter.org/home.
Dr. Edward Witten, a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, received the Fields Medal in 1990 for his work in string theory. In 2012, Witten was among the nine recipients of a new prize rewarding work at the cutting edges of physics research. The $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize was awarded for the first time in 2012. Witten and three other recipients work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. where they work on theories trying to tie together the basic particles and forces of the universe, particularly with string theory.