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Sociology Lecturer Shelley White and Dean Renée White Attend the First US We Day

April 4, 2013

Shelley White, Jennifer Hudson and Jonathan White

Lecturer of Sociology Shelley White and Dean Renée White attended the first We Day in the United States on March 27th.

"[We Day] is to create the spark…get students pumped up about being the change-makers," said Shelley White.

White is on the Board of Directors for Free the Children, the international charity and education organization that hosts We Day. She joined the organization in 2001 and joined the Board of Directors in 2011.

"What appeals to me as both a social activist and sociologist, is we attempt very carefully not to repeat the mistakes of colonialism or neo-colonialism," said Shelley White. "Feed the Children does not impose on the communities we work with. [We] believe in being guided by the community."

In one Kenyan community, the organization had noticed that girls weren't coming to school. When they learned that the girls were making several mile-long trips to get water for the family, they worked to install rain catchment systems so the girls could complete their household chores and still finish school.

Though We Day is mostly attended by middle school and high schoolers who have earned their way there through a year-long curriculum of education and service, there are opportunities for college students to get involved as well.

University chapters of Free the Children might come to We Day as volunteers for the event itself, or raise funds to go on one of Free the Children's international trips. In these immersion trips, one might help build a school, learn about poverty to contextualize what's being seen, and then at night learn leadership development such as public speaking, how to design campaigns and how to really change social policy.

"It's an amazing organization to be involved in," said Shelley White. As the largest network of children helping children, Free the Children is "freeing young people from the misconception that they're powerless."


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