April 24, 2009

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Janice Butler, director of the Office of Service Learning at Bucknell University, has been honored with the 2009 Burma-Bucknell Award for Promoting Intercultural and International Understanding.

Butler, who joined the University in 1988 as director of the Women's Resource Center, was named director of service learning in 2002.

She has been involved in numerous projects including Bicycles Against Poverty, Katrina Recovery trips, the Intergroup Dialogue Project, Empty Bowls, Scholars in Service, the Civil Rights Spring Break Trip, the Alternative Break Fair, Projects for Peace and the Bucknell Brigade, beginning with the first trip to Nueva Vida, Nicaragua, in 1999.

Among other things, Butler was cited for forging "powerful bonds between the Bucknell community and Nueva Vida, helping make possible the construction of two health clinics, a sewing co-op, and the El Porvenir waterline project. In large part through your efforts, over 400 students, faculty, staff and community members have had the opportunity to serve in Nicaragua and learn about the Nicaraguan people and their history." The Bucknell Brigade is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Burma-Bucknell relationship
The award, which has been given annually since 1958, is named for the special relationship between Burma and Bucknell, dating back to the founding of the University in 1846. 

Key leaders in establishing the University were active in Baptist missionary work in Burma. Maung Shaw Loo, Bucknell's first international student and the first Burmese student to study in America, was a member of the Class of 1864. 

Throughout Bucknell's history, the connection between Burma and Bucknell continued, culminating in the Burma-Bucknell Weekends, celebrated on campus from 1948 to 1965. In 1959, Ambassador U Win presented Bucknell with a handcrafted silver bowl to celebrate 100 years of the partnership.

The connection continues with five Burmese students currently enrolled at Bucknell, and three who have been offered admission to the Class of 2013. The Shaw Loo Memorial Scholarship helps provide aid to those students.

Office of Service Learning
A cooperative initiative on the part of faculty and staff, the Office of Service Learning  program began in September 2002. The office works to combine academic learning with service work to enhance learning and benefit the community.

The program serves to link teachers and learners to nonprofit organizations with identified needs. More than 100 organizations in the central Susquehanna Valley have requested student assistance so far, and, according to surveys completed by numerous faculty, many instructors have an interest in developing courses that include a service component.

Contact: Division of Communications


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