Dear Friends and Family,

I’m having a great time in Thailand. Not only am I learning so much about globalization and development, but I’m learning about Thai culture, alternative education, and a lot about myself. When I signed up for this study abroad program I knew it was going to be intense, but I really didn’t know the level of intensity. I’m living, working, and learning with 19 other students from across America. Not only are we working together, but we are creating our curriculum as we go along. I hate to say that we are teaching ourselves, but I have no other way of describe it. All 20 of us are responsible for how much we get out of this program. If we want very little, we will get very little. The good thing, however, is our group happens to be very driven and wants to learn as much as possible in the four months we are given.

The alternative education model that this study abroad program uses happens to be the way I learn best. While studying in a classroom is successful in some cases, I learn best when I’m able to get my hands dirty and apply what I’ve learn to the real world. Because I’ve found this style of education to be the best for me, I right away began looking for a model that would do something similar in the States. Lucky, some alumni from the Khon Kaen CIEE program have been looking to do the same and created Engage University. I, along with 7 students will be starting a pilot program of Engage University June 3, 2011.

I am getting in touch to request your support for Engage University. For those of you who have only heard about the project in vague terms and want more details, Engage University is an alternative summer study program that immerses college students in a variety of community development initiatives across the U.S. I’m excited to create the curriculum for a program that will provide students with the opportunity to learn about structures of power and marginalization in a domestic context.

Our pilot program this summer involves taking 7 undergraduate students on a five-week Mississippi River Social Justice Tour starting June 3, 2011 and ending July 6, 2011. For the bulk of the program, students will be staying in two communities: Barron, Wisconsin and New Orleans, Louisiana. We are working with community organizations that are providing us with comprehensive background information, home-stays, and logistical support within each community. Students will live, work, and exchange with community members, non-profits, NGOs, and businesses involved in social justice issues, such as food justice, sustainable farming, and race and immigration. Upon completion of Engage U, students will have a better understanding of U.S. social justice issues, the role they play as U.S. and world citizens in fostering systems of oppression, and how community organizing can be used to initiate positive social change.

There are a three ways you can help Engage University achieve its goal to create a cross-campus community that embraces participatory and community-based learning to initiate positive social change. First, you can help us spread the word about Engage University to increase awareness and spread publicity. Second, you could sponsor a student to participate in this summer program. We’ve created a budget for the program, and each student is responsible for raising $3,000. Third, we would appreciate ANY financial contribution that would help us reach our fundraising goal. Donations to Engage University are tax-deductible. Checks should be made out to Engage with the memo: Engage University and can be sent to my home address at 4608 Southcrest Dr. Louisville KY 40215. I will collect all checks and send them together to the Engage office. Remember, any amount counts!

We also have accounts with Paypal ( is our account address) and Network for Good ( if you feel more comfortable donating that way (If you do donate online, please make sure you write that the donation is for Julia and Engage University).

If you are interested in more information, please e-mail me at or visit:

Thank you for your consideration and generosity.