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Skidmore in Africa

Posted: 07/15/2009

Continuing an exchange program that began in 1996, 19 Skidmore students and a professional team of six toured South Africa for 27 days in May and June. The program, led by Karen Brackett of the Educational Studies Department, is designed to give students a powerful non-Western cultural experience and acquaint them with South Africa’s history, culture, geography and education system.

As in past years, the Skidmore delegation began its journey with a two-week stay at the Edendale Primary School, near Pretoria, where the students not only joined teachers in their classrooms but became fully immersed in the life of the school, which has an on-site orphanage for children, many with parents who have died of HIV/AIDS.

“These children and teachers will be in our hearts forever,” the students wrote in their online chronicle of the journey (Click here to view). “This experience will have an impact on each of us for years to come. We are already brainstorming ways to stay involved.”

As in past years, students and members of the professional team who participated in this journey worked with staff at Patti’s Quilting and Fabrics in Glens Falls prior to their departure to make quilts – 170 in all -- for children in need they would meet along the way. African fabric was incorporated in each quilt so that children “would feel a sense of cultural comfort surrounding them,” says Brackett. A 95-year-old Saratogian, Mary Eddy, made more than 40 quilts, and the Association of American University Women made more than 50 quilts. Several local guilds also contributed to the effort.

The Skidmore delegation included Patti Estabrook, owner of Patti’s Quilting and Fabrics, and two others associated with the store. They brought with them three sewing machines, fabric, threads, rotary cutters, and mats kits, and worked with students in all grades at the Edendale School on four full-size quilts to be displayed in local museums in the spring of 2010. Click here to visit the site.

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