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Engaged! tale: Adopt an Aid Agency

Alex Przedpelski decided to take a year off and travel the world before starting as a freshman at Furman last fall. One of the stops along his route was the city of El Porvenir in northern Peru. He spent two months teaching English and physical education classes at a humble community school run mainly by international volunteers.

“It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Przedpelski, who is from Summit, N.J. “It definitely changed me.”

Przedpelski was one of eight freshmen to share research and, in some cases, personal experiences with volunteer and charitable organizations as part of Furman ENGAGED! April 12, when the university celebrated the wide variety of undergraduate research, scholarship and creativity of its students. The session, called “Adopt an Aid Agency,” allowed freshmen to make a pitch to encourage economics professor Nathan Cook to donate to their favorite charities.

The presentations were part of a first-year writing seminar called “Can the West Save the Rest?” As they studied global poverty, students discussed how to use data and evidence to support their writing skills and show that their charity is successfully addressing its goals. Cook pledged to make a donation to one or more charities at the end of the course.

He’ll have lots of options, thanks to the class. He can plant a tree to help the environment in China, buy a mosquito net to help prevent the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses in Africa, or provide food, healthcare and education for a child in Haiti.

Hyeri Song of Nairobi, Kenya, said she was impressed by GiveDirectly, a cash transfer program used in her homeland to provide money directly, via cellphone, to needy families. The program enables families to purchase livestock, expand a business, or upgrade their home’s thatched roof to a metal one. “It’s something that’s efficient, relatable and very creative,” Song said.

In addition to providing education programs for more than 350 children each year, Przedpelski’s non-profit organization, Supporting Kids in Peru, offers parenting workshops, microfinance loans and group business training. “There’s just so much need,” Przedpelski said. “It’s been very eye-opening.”

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