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Date: May 05, 2008
Hofstra Students Join with African Counterparts in "Green Future Project"
Students to travel to Togo in May to work on reforestation projects; Togolese students to visit Hofstra in the fallHofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Students from Hofstra University and the University of Lomé in the West African nation of Togo will learn about sustainable ecology projects and about each other in an exciting new project that will forge an ongoing cooperative relationship between the two universities.
Dubbed the "Green Future Project" and also involving the international development organization Plan International and its organizations in the U.S. and Togo, the project will enable students in both nations to learn how to organize, implement and maintain sustainable ecology projects as they learn about the culture, resources and politics of each country. Hofstra students have been exchanging e-mails with their Togolese counterparts for more than a year. Later this month, four students will travel to Togo along with Sociology Professor Cynthia Bogard, Ph.D., director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), and Anthropology Professor Cheryl Mwaria, Ph.D. The CCE is sponsoring the project.
The group will spend two weeks traveling and learning about the impoverished nation, meeting their partners and jointly planning and implementing community-based reforestation projects.
"The CCE is dedicated to developing students as citizens, and in the 21st century, that increasingly means becoming a responsible global citizen," said Dr. Bogard. "This program will teach students to be effective community organizers while also demonstrating how young people can effect positive change on two of the world's most central social problems - poverty and environmental sustainability. And it will demonstrate how these problems show up in a wealthy country - the US - and a very poor country - Togo. I can't think of a more comprehensive and exciting way to teach students about the pleasures and responsibilities of citizenship."
Hofstra senior Brian Watson noted that Togo has been devastated by flooding and deforestation. “They live so much more closely to their environment than we do here,” he said.
"I am looking forward to applying the skills I have learned at Hofstra to a meaningful development project," said Thomas Neuschul, a junior.
Next fall, students from Togo will visit Hofstra, which plans to launch an urban “re-greening” project in a community close to the university in connection with Hofstra’s new Sustainable Suburban Neighborhoods Initiative. The Togolese students also will be invited to participate in Educate '08 - Hofstra's year-long special series of political programs being held in conjunction with the university's hosting of the third presidential debate on October 15, 2008.
The Green Future Project will focus on organizing local community members in economically challenging circumstances, assisting them in identifying where environment restoration would be useful and helping a community to realize its re-greening goals. Students plan to model their projects on 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai's African Green-Belt movement - a widespread African program that assists residents in reforestation and soil improvement projects that lead to sustainable environmental practices. The Green Future Project aims to strategically expose young Africans to the process of American democratic policymaking and implementation and to expose young Americans to the challenges faced by emerging democracies in impoverished nations.
In addition to Plan USA, Plan Togo has played an important role in implementing the exchange between the two groups of students. Plan Togo, which has been running programs since 1988, focuses on programs in health, education, water and sanitation and on promoting and protecting children's rights.
Plan USA is an international humanitarian organization that works with young people, their families and their communities in 66 countries to help children realize their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity. In the U.S., a key area of Plan's work is building youth leadership and global citizenship skills and capacities, and supporting youth to connect with each other and take action on issues that affect them. Plan USA's School Linking program connects U.S youth, elementary through university level, with their peers in 49 developing countries throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. The program provides an outlet for meaningful communication centered on cross-cultural learning and understanding.
The Center for Civic Engagement is an academic institute founded by faculty throughout the university based on the belief that informed and involved students are more likely to participate in the democratic process. The CCE encourages students to become knowledgeable and active citizens in their campus, local, national and global communities and educates students about their own potential for civic engagement and about current and historical issues related to democracy.
Hofstra University is a dynamic private institution where students can choose from about 145 undergraduate and 155 graduate programs in liberal arts and sciences, business, communication, education and allied human services, and honors studies, as well as a School of Law. With a student-faculty ratio of 14-to-1, our professors teach small classes averaging 22 students that emphasize interaction, critical thinking and analysis. Hofstra offers a faculty whose highest priority is teaching excellence, cutting edge technology, extensive library resources, internships and special educational programs that appeal to their interests and abilities. The Hofstra community is driven, dynamic and energetic, helping students find and focus their strengths to prepare them for a successful future.