The Hervey Ross ’50, L.H.D. ’07 Oratorical Contest was designed specifically for Clark University LEEP Fellows to describe their summer projects. But presenter Katherine Liptak ’15 asserted right away that her talk would not pile on the details of the summer internship she spent in Cape Town, South Africa, but rather she would unpeel the process of rethinking the very nature of how we interact with each other.
“I don’t want to talk about volunteering, I want to talk about how we learn to volunteer,” she said. “How do we learn to help in a culturally sensitive and beneficial way?”
Liptak’s unconventional approach and seamless delivery earned her first place among 11 contestants and the top prize of $500. Her LEEP project was titled, “Developing Education: The Experimental Approach, CIEE Cape Town.”
“Some things cannot be practiced. You can’t learn to jump off a bridge until you jump off a bridge,” she said. “You can’t learn how engage with a community until you engage with a community — when you talk to South Africans and learn that their narratives are so different than ours.”
Liptak, a sociology major, said the keys to effective engagement are to know your environment, calibrate yourself within that environment, and, finally, secure tangible resources and create networks so that you can accomplish something substantial. These things, she said, give a person the tools needed to drive change.
Second place in the contest went to Spencer Gale ’15, an international development and social change major, who spoke on the topic of “Business Modeling for Social Change” at the Kitendo Children’s Charity in Naivasha, Kenya. Gale discussed the difficulties of constructing an irrigation system in a rural area, noting that coming to terms with periodic failures — including unsuccessfully keeping the local wildlife at bay — was an essential piece of her experience.
Patricia De Carvalho ’15, a management major, earned third place for her talk on “Developing and Implementing a Content Marketing Strategy for the Fashion Cookbook: Holistic Imaging Consulting.” De Carvalho noted that she lives with a condition that causes excessive swelling in her right leg, something that she once tried to hide with long pants and skirts, but which she now doesn’t allow to restrict her fashion sense. De Carvalho said true fashion is an art form that can empower and liberate a person, inspiring confidence and a sense of beauty “when we see ourselves as the perfect canvas.”
Also presenting were:
Whitney Brown ’15 (political science and philosophy), “Domestic Violence: Identifying Harmful Relationships in Young Adults, YWCA of Central Mass/SAFEPLAN”; Ethan Forauer ’15 (environmental science), summer coordinator at the Center for Environmental Leadership and Training at the Climate Institute, Washington, D.C.; Delight Gavor ’16 (psychology), “Butterfly Effect: Allowing Students to be the Change in Ghana”; Young Heo ’16 (psychology), “Developing and Coordinating a Social Media Business Plan”; Alexandra Knopf ’15 (geography), “Developing Museum Exhibit Prototypes Based on Clark’s ‘ULTRA-ex’ Research”; Hannah Martin ’15 (cultural studies and communication), “Developing & Implementing a Content Marketing Strategy, The Fashion Cookbook: Holistic Image Consulting”; Nicholas Porcella ’15 (English), research and writing assistant for education brochures at the Worcester Art Museum; and Ravina Wadhwani ’15 (psychology and sociology), summer program coordinator, Ivy Child International, Worcester.
Prior to the contest, sponsor Hervey Ross addressed the LEEP Fellows, stressing the need to communicate with purpose in every area.
“Life is just expressing yourself, and here [at Clark], you’re going to learn how,” he said.