Fordham University Lincoln Center campus will come alive with the joyous colors of spectacular art and handcrafts from around the world on April 22, 23 and 24. The Fordham Graduate School, St. John's University, and the Vassar Club of New York unite with Spes Nova and the Vassar Haiti Project to host an international art sale of paintings and handcrafts. There will also be a panel discussion coordinated by the Vassar Club of New York entitled, “Communities at Risk: Social Justice in the Developing World” at 4:00pm on Saturday, April 22. Panelists include, Vassar alumna Tamsin Chen '15, Patrick Struebi, founder of Fairtrasa and Dr. Sean Murray of St. John’s. A reception will follow in the Atrium.
The international art sale is a collaborative effort between the Vassar Haiti Project, Fordham’s Spes Nova, the Graduate School of Arts and Science, Gabelli Business School, CIPS, and St. John’s University. Teaching global citizenship – the art and science of learning how to operate effectively, appropriately, and equitably in the world – is the glue that connects these entities.
This collaborative fair trade event will celebrate Haitian, Guatemalan and Kenyan art and culture in particular, and raise funds for the Vassar Haiti Project’s ongoing work in Haiti as well as for the many other student-driven projects at Fordham University and St. John’s University. The three schools have worked tirelessly in forging this new partnership. VHP’s Post Baccalaureate Fellow Melanie Lai Wai ’16 speaks to her experience. “The Vassar Haiti Project has taught me about relationship, respect, and responsibility. Although there are challenges every day in our work, it amazes me how people are able to come together and work toward a common goal.”
The Vassar Haiti Project, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, has for 15 years funded primary and secondary school programs, a full-time clinic, and sustainable development initiatives in Chermaitre, a remote mountain village in Northwest Haiti. The Haiti Project, based in Poughkeepsie, NY, engages college students in a global citizenship curriculum and fundraises through the sale of Haitian art and donations. Vassar Haiti Project Co-Founder Dr. Andrew Meade explains, “we have provided a way for the artists to help the people of a village: it is Haitians helping Haitians. We serve as facilitators of this grand dance.”
Spes Nova is an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization co-founded by Fordham University’s Associate Professor of Economics Erick Rengifo whose mission is to help alleviate poverty around the world. Through its global network of universities and academic institutions, Spes Nova is able to help artisans grow their businesses. Spes Nova’s platform provides access to markets, microfinance and micro-insurance, creating a foundation for sustainable and inclusive development (SID). This three-pillar approach, when complemented by community development actions, helps artisans, their families, and their communities escape from the poverty trap . Spes Nova has been incorporated into the curriculum at Fordham University, where students learn to navigate sustainable development issues. The sale will feature goods produced by Spes Nova businesses in Guatemala, Haiti and Kenya.
The products that Spes Nova will feature from Kenya are soapstone carvings made by the Nyabigena Soapstone Carvers Organization, a non-profit grassroots group. The group was founded in 1990 and is composed of 150 members (120 men and 30 women). This organization is also a member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). The Nyabigena Soapstone Carvers Organization offers management training workshops, educational opportunities for widows and orphans, and health and nutrition education. They plan to start a tree nursery and to expand their educational and HIV/AIDS programs. From Haiti, Spes Nova will present jewelry, bowls, and handbags that women artisans crafted to support their children. Finally, the Guatemalan products come from Wakami, an organization that sell accessories handcrafted with care by women in rural villages of Guatemala.
St. John’s University became recognized this past fall as an official Catholic Relief Service campus. These ambassadors have been building up their program for the past several years, and they host events that advocate social justice issues. One of their main missions is promoting Fair Trade. They, along with the organization St. John’s for Fair Trade, are working to make St. John’s a Fair Trade designated campus, which will raise awareness of conscious consumer issues and global poverty. Fair Trade goods are popping  up at multiple vendors around campus, and Catholic Relief Services hosts Fair Trade Fridays, a weekly event that sells goods from Panama and other nations, and spreads the word about conscious consumption.
The Vassar Haiti Project, Fordham Graduate School, St. John's University, and local volunteers look forward to raising critically important funds. Working with Spes Nova, Pinar Zubaroglu ‘18, a doctoral student from Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, states: “This event brings all strong connections together to support the talents and communities of the developing world. I would recommend everyone to save the date for such a good cause!”
The art sale and panel discussion are free and open to the public. All art and handcraft sales are 50% tax deductible. Opening hours of the sale are listed below. For more information, please call Lila Meade at 845.797.2123 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hours are as follows:
Saturday, April 22 10am – 8pm
Communities at Risk: Social Justice in the Developing World
Reception: To Follow
Sunday, April 23 10am – 4pm
Monday, April 24 9am – 3pm
Lincoln Center campus, Second floor, Atrium.
113 Columbus Avenue @ 60th St.