Father Smith Fellowships Send 10 Students to Five Continents This Summer
The Father Philip A. Smith, O.P. Fellowship Program for Study and Service Abroad, now in its fifth year at Providence College, sent a record 10 students to study on five continents this summer, in Haiti, Spain, India, South Africa, the Solomon Islands, and Australia.
The fellowships, awarded on a competitive basis to rising juniors and seniors through the Office of Mission and Ministry, allow students to deepen their understanding of the Catholic and Dominican intellectual tradition and the philosophy of Christian service by participating in summer study or service at Catholic and Dominican sites outside the United States.
Named for the late Rev. Philip A. Smith, O.P. ’63, who served as the College’s president from 1994 to 2005, the fellowships are made possible through gifts from former and current PC trustees.
It’s the first time the program has sent students to Haiti and India. Fellows also traveled to two new locations in South Africa.
Studying cell phone use in Haiti
Molly O’Donohue ’15 (Sparkill, N.Y.), a finance major, is at The Haitian Project’s Louverture Cleary School outside Port-au-Prince, researching the use and influence of cell phones on the Haitian population.
In her blog, she described a visit to businesses in Port-au-Prince with the president of The Haitian Project, Deacon Patrick J.A. Moynihan ’99G & ’12Hon.
“Not only did I get to see a factory where people were working building small electrical parts, but I also was able to speak with the businessmen about my project,” O’Donohue wrote. “It is the hope that in the next few weeks that I will return to these businesses and speak with their employees about their own cell phone habits, as well as their personal financing.
“By talking to these men today, I learned that many Haitians do not even own a bank account. As a result, I am hoping that my survey can look into whether or not Haitians are using mobile money and if they are, whether the use of such a tool has led to increased savings or increased spending.”
Researching Louis of Granada in Spain
Melissa Ann Scott ’14 (Seekonk, Mass.), a political science and Spanish double major, traveled to The Center for Spanish Language and Culture at the Catholic University of Avila in Spain to undertake a personal study, “Venerable Louis of Granada, O.P. and His Influence on Spanish Mysticism.”
Scott wrote about her first day in Avila: “We went to see the Basilica of the Martyred Saints Vincent, Sabina, and Cristeta. Under the basilica there is a stunning statue of the Virgin Mother. Legend has it that the statue dates back to the time when the Muslims invaded Spain and the statue was hidden underground for safekeeping. St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross both had a devotion to this Virgin of the Soterraña (meaning underground).”
Teaching at a boys’ school in India
Mary McDermott ’14 (Hopedale, Mass.), a music education major, and Emily Reers ’15 (Glen Rock, N.J.), who is double majoring in political science and public and community service studies, went to Nagpur, India, to teach boys ages 7-18 at the Yuvajyothi School at the Indian Center for Integrated Development, run by the Dominican Friars.
McDermott wrote about the students: “Constantly, they are teaching me new things. Whether it’s a new game, a Hindi folk song, a dance move, or how to give a proper handshake, I think they’re really just teaching me how to live a more positive life.
“I think about how much these boys value what they have and how much less they have than I do, and it makes me realize just how much I value having my own home and a family who is always there for me.”
Reers wrote about Nagpur, located in the geographic center of India: “I was not sure what I was expecting Nagpur to be like, but it was definitely not what I was picturing. I think it is impossible for somebody from America to imagine what India is like. Nagpur is one of the smaller cities in India. There are cows walking down the streets like they are people, dogs lying in the streets, a lot of run-down and unoccupied buildings, and most people get around riding motor scooters.”
Serving and teaching in South Africa
Heidi Fraitzl ’14 (Bedford, N.H.), a sociology major, and Amanda Haluga ’14 (Groton, Conn.), a psychology major, are serving with the Dominican Friars’ Ministries in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
“My sociology mind has been going non-stop since we arrived in Pietermaritzburg and has been fed a lot of food-for-thought,” Fraitzl wrote. “The brothers have been sharing African culture with us throughout the week, and many of our conversations compare American to African cultures. The effects of apartheid are extremely visible still, and it is interesting to contrast our conversations with Marie-Chantal, a white woman from Belgium, and the brothers, who come from all over Africa.”
“So that’s how I am feeling right now,” wrote Haluga. “A bit tired, but completely, completely blessed, and so very thankful to have such a supportive family, to be here in this beautiful country, to have found a home very far away from home, to have found such wonderful people, to have had an experience that has already changed my life, and that I still have almost three weeks to stay.”
Meanwhile, David O’Connor ’14 (Franklin Square, N.Y.), a public and community service studies major, is working at the St. Martin de Porres Development Centre in Springs, South Africa.
“This past year I have been working on a proposal for the Father Smith Fellowship,” O’Connor wrote. “Through guidance from above, I ended up getting in contact with Irish Dominicans who had contacts in South Africa. It is through the Irish Dominicans that I was introduced to Brother Dominic Chiotad, a brother from Zimbabwe. Brother Dominic established The St. Martin De Porres Development Center, a program that works to assist poor and orphaned youth ages 3-18.”
Working at a school, hospital in the Solomon Islands
Kaitlin Scharff ’14 (Far Hills, N.J.), an elementary and special education major, and Ryan Frazier ’15 (Basking Ridge, N.J.), a biology major, are at the Dominican Friars’ and Sisters’ Ministries in Auki, Malaita Island, Solomon Islands.
Scharff, who is teaching, wrote: “I taught a double period of English and asked my students to write a paragraph on a past event. I was so pleased to see that they were able to do so and that they had learned something from me this week. All of the students respectfully call me ‘Madam’ and politely ask before they enter the room if they have permission, but it feels funny because I’m pretty much their age.”
Frazier, who is working at a hospital, wrote about his experience: “I saved the best for last: an appendectomy. This routine surgery was among the coolest things I’ve seen here yet. First, it required the most serious anesthesia that Kilu’ufi can provide: administration of sedative to your cerebral spinal fluid (called a spinal). This provides paralysis to the lower extremities of the body and no pain.”
Volunteering with Dominican Sisters in Australia
Catherine “Kate” Mulvihill ’15 (Middle Village, N.Y.), an accountancy major, is volunteering at Santa Sabina College and St. Lucy’s School with the Dominican Sisters in Sydney, Australia, and living with a local family.
She reflected about a visit to Gerringong: “I went for a run and am now sitting in front of the huge bay window overlooking the ocean. I wish everyone could see this, and the views I saw all weekend. It’s just so beautiful that no matter what anyone is going through during the time, if you looked at it, maybe just for a second their mind would be taken off any worries. I’ve never been anywhere like this in my life. This truly is an added and unexpected bonus of the fellowship.”
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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