Moellership recipients prepare for summer of service

Citizens of the world.

That’s what five Florida State University students will work to become this summer when they travel abroad to continue on service they have always been passionate about — all fully funded through the Center for Leadership & Social Change’s Moellership program. 

The Moellership program is an initiative that hopes by sending students to service for a longer length of time, that they will be able to become a part of the community and organization they are serving with for years to come.

“It’s not just about students having a summer where they learn a lot or gain new skills,” said Juan Mendizabal, who coordinates the Moellership program. “Ideally we are hoping to show the impact students are able to create in communities in which they reciprocally benefit from.”

Sophomore William Dewar will travel to Uganda to work with the Women’s Microfinance Initiative, an opportunity that will will give him experience relevant to his passion for international development.

“Long term,” Dewar said, “I am very interested in international development and different ways to successfully accomplish poverty alleviation worldwide. I have done a lot of work over the years with a non-profit organization in Haiti, but I wanted to get a view outside of Haiti."

Dewar hopes to better understand the developing world and the application of microfinance. “As a volunteer interning with this organization, I am going to be working hand-in-hand with their staff, and I will be able to work directly with people that are receiving microfinance, learning how to make it more successful, in what ways it is already successful, and how it can be unsuccessful,” Dewar said.

Working with an agency means Dewar and the other recipients can focus on service, instead of possible mishaps.

“My ultimate goal is to be able to function in my capacity as successfully as possible," Dewar said, "So my agency having a solid infrastructure in place allows me not to be worried about the possible violence that could occur.”

“We can usually verify that there are one or two people on the ground working with them who knows if they got home safely or if they arrived to their site safely who know to report with us back here at FSU if anything has gone wrong,” said Mendizabal.


Bachansingh.jpgJessica Bachansingh
Major: Retail merchandising and product development
Location: Jacksonville, FL (4 weeks) then Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (4 weeks)
Agency: Elpis International
Social issues: Women and girls’ issues, economic development


Christakis.jpgBarbara Christakis
Graduate student
Major: Medicine
Location: Athens, Greece
Agency: Lighthouse Relief
Social issues: Refugee relief & women’s health


Dewar.jpgWilliam Dewar
Major: International Affairs
Location: Buyobo, Uganda
Agency: Women’s Microfinance Initiative
Social issues: Economic development & women’s health


Lee.jpgJeongmin Lee
Ph. D. candidate
College of Education
Location: Zomba district, Malawi
Agency: Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART)
Social issues: Education, health, poverty


Sicius.jpgPaulina Sicius
Major: Creative writing/ economics
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Agency: PeaceJam
Social issue: Youth development

First year medical student Barbara Christakis will be traveling to a town a little outside of Athens, Greece to help educate the female refugee population on women’s health issues affecting her specific camp area.

“I will be working on projects that Lighthouse Relief offers for the refugee population in this specific camp including projects on sexual and reproductive health which goes along with another project on infant and young child breast feeding, all of which are educational,” Christakis said. “We will also serve to connect the women in the camp with medical organizations that can give them gynecological appointments.”

Women’s health, and reproductive health is a new service experience for Christakis. “I have in the past worked in Uganda for eight weeks at an orphanage that was more with children, but it wasn’t until I really started in medical school that I got passionate about women’s health and reproductive health, and what I love is that this organization focuses on that.”

That’s why she is so excited and nervous about this new adventure. Christakis said that the learning experience is an interesting prospect, but acknowledges how the reality of the tragic stories could be hard for her to take in.

As a medical student, Christakis plans to work with patients soon and eventually have some of her own, so one thing she wants to learn is to keep in mind always the background and the story of her patient.

“I think by spending the summer with these displaced women and by hearing their stories hopefully it’ll be a reminder,” she said, “as I become a physician, to listen to the stories of all my patients and take into account the struggles that they face.”

-Fabuola Pierre