Agnes E. Beckmann ’12 received a Steinbrecher Fellowship from Clark University and has spent the beginning of her summer vacation volunteering at a day care and school in Kathmandu at a non-profit organization, Orchid Garden Nepal, through ProWorld Service Corps. The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in 2006 to encourage and support Clark undergraduates’ pursuit of original ideas, creative research, and community service projects. Beckmann and 10 other undergraduate students are using their Fellowships to undertake projects this summer and during the 2011-2012 academic year. In addition to her volunteer work, Beckmann is taking photographs of the landscape and of the people of Nepal. Upon her return to Clark this fall, she will create a photographic exhibit to share her impressions of Nepal and her knowledge of the culture and landscape of this poverty stricken country in the Himalayan Mountains. Beckmann has worked with the kids at the Orchid Garden Nepal, assisted with painting, created alphabet and number flash cards, helped computerize a school roster and set up a website to raise money to begin a dormitory for girls. During her time in Nepal, Beckmann had the opportunity to see some of the children’s “homes,” which, she says, consist of tiny rooms with full-sized beds, kitchens that only contain a burner and some pots, small shelves for clothing, and a light in the ceiling.
“You can be told over and over again that poverty is a problem in this country but until you see how children, who seem so happy and carefree playing in the school yard, live it is inconceivable,” Beckmann wrote. It took Beckmann a while to get used to being stared at, since being a tall white woman in Nepal is a rare sight. She admits she experienced homesickness and culture shock. “Culture shock is such an interesting phenomenon which I knew I would face when planning the trip,” she wrote in her personal blog for friends and family. “I attempted to prepare myself, but there is really only so much you can do before you stumble out of an airport into a strange place and you’re off to the races!” Beckmann, who describes her time volunteering as “an unbelievably rewarding experience in so many ways,” is looking forward to returning home on July 4, a return trip that will take 31 hours. As she reflected on her trip and the photos she spent documenting her time in Nepal, she writes, “I love seeing the world through a view finder and trying to find ways to bring back all of my experiences to those who were not able to come with me this time. I am really proud of the photos I have taken and can’t wait to begin the process of printing them. I know that all of my hard work will pay off when I see my photos in frames being appreciated by those who care about me and had faith in my talents enough to make this project possible.” Beckmann is member of the Class of 2012 at Clark, majoring in psychology. She is the director of administration for Clark University’s Emergency Medical Services (CUEMS), and is involved in the All Kinds of Girls (AKOG) Program. She was a resident advisor and a peer learning assistant, and also participates in The Vagina Monologues. Beckmann is a member of Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in Psychology. Beckmann is the daughter of Gary Beckmann and Flora Pirquet of Arlington, Mass. She is a 2007 graduate of Dana Hall School. The Steinbrecher Fellowship Program was established in memory of David C. Steinbrecher, class of ’81, by his parents, Phyllis and Stephen Steinbrecher, class of ’55, and is funded by generous gifts from the Steinbrecher family and friends of David. The program is directed by Associate Professor Sharon Krefetz, former Dean of the College and current Chair of Clark’s Department of Political Science.