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Duke Engage makes a positive impact

Last update - Thursday, July 16, 2009, 17:58 By Charlie Johnson

Minister for Integration John Curran TD was on hand at UCD’s Geary Institute last week to celebrate the launch of the Duke Engage programme.

The eight Duke University students participating in the Dublin wing of the programme will spend two months at UCD working on community action projects within Ireland’s growing immigrant population. 
“There’s a long history of international exchange here in Ireland, and I’m very proud to see this tradition continued with the Duke Engage programme,” said Minister Curran.
Duke Engage – which is sponsored by the Durham, North Carolina-based university and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – is designed to give Duke students the opportunity to engage directly in communities with  needs.
Programme participants work directly with their community of interest to develop appropriate projects and resources for community members.
“This is not simply an internship programme,” said Duke professor Suzanne Shanahan.
Last year Duke student Sudha Patel worked with the African women’s network AkiDwA to develop a handbook for doctors dealing with African women who have been the victim of female genital mutilation. 
The handbook is now distributed worldwide, and Patel is back this summer with AkiDwA and the Irish Family Planning Association to teach a training course on reproductive health.
“I love Dublin and I could see myself moving here and doing more work,” said Patel. 
No matter what the project, members of the Duke Engage programme are all set on having a positive impact on Ireland’s immigrant community.
“It takes more than being smart and having a clever idea to make a difference in the world,” said Shanahan. “We want our students to understand that change is hard, and collaborative.”

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