Nanjing to New Orleans with Fox Leadership International
Thirty Penn students from China spent spring break on a service-learning expedition in New Orleans that began with a wide-ranging group discussion with the city's mayor, the Hon. Mitch Landrieu. Joined by several Fox Leadership Program Alumni Fellows who work full-time at local community-serving nonprofit organizations, the students also met with more than a dozen other local leaders—including the director of Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services Programs—and visited several organizations—including Covenant House, a shelter and life-skills center for homeless youth and young adults. The unique experience was arranged though Fox Leadership International (FLI) as part of its China-U.S. Partnerships for Educational Advancement and Cultural Exchange (PEACE) initiative.
"Covenant House and its executive director Jim Kelly left an indelible mark on my spirit,” said Yishan (Ethan) Wang, C’18, W’18. “If not now, when? If not us, who? His passion inspires me and his compassion motivates me."
Fels M.P.A. student Fanchao Meng, LPS'17, said that the "inclusive love embodied by Catholic Charities' Immigrant Support and Refugee Services Programs inspired us to pass the torch of hope to rebuild not only homes but the dreams of the disadvantaged. Together, we are stronger!"
In a meeting with Penn Parent Lynn Tinto, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the students learned how the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and how the Army Corps of Engineers has strengthened the Hurricane Risk Reduction System for New Orleans.
A number of students in the group are enrolled in a Penn political science problem-solving learning seminar that focuses on the eldercare challenges faced by China and America. They visited one of the city’s Program for All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) centers, and had a half-day seminar with local public health leader Dr. Elmore Rigamer. Yuanhao (Joshua) Liu, SPP’17, said that "It has been an inspiring journey exploring the social programs in New Orleans. The visit to PACE has encouraged me to think about the aging crisis and the concept of healthy aging from the perspective of a practitioner."
And, of course, the students ate great food, toured the historic town, and spent their last evening at a bowling alley-dance hall that features Zydeco music.