On March 14, 2003, The Periclean Scholars sponsored their first Periclean-in-Residence, Kevin Bales; an expert on contemporary slavery whom works for the United Nations and is the author of Disposable People. He gave the students valuable insight about the injustices around the world and gave them advice on becoming good global citizens; his recommendations included (1) learn languages, (2) learn bureaucracy.
On April 3-4, 2003 Periclean Scholar, Damon Duncan, and Dr. Tom Arcaro, the program's mentor, attended the Project Pericles Commencement Conference held in New York with the nine other official Periclean institutions.
Tom Arcaro, the Project Pericles Mentor, and J McMerty, Senior Producer for Elon Television, traveled to Namibia for a period of ten days and collected approximately 24 hours of digital video, 700 photographs, and extensive b-roll footage that featured urban and rural scenes, landscapes, wildlife, schools, markets, homesteads, etc. The visual representation of the country, the residents, and the economic situation illustrates the seriousness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the call for immediate action. They also established a multitude of contacts with Namibians affected by the disease, and other volunteers working and living in Namibia to alleviate some of the destitution.
When the official class meetings initiated, the Periclean Scholars immediately began educating themselves about the situation in Namibia; and the numerous cultural, economic, and social factors contributing to the rampant spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the country. The class collaboratively and individually conducted research, and presented their findings to each other to develop a comprehensive understanding of the pandemic. Each member of the class created a mini-documentary that appealed to a wide range of audiences and explained the complexity and severity of the disease.
The group continued to be in consistent contact with Namibians and AIDS activists living in Namibia through multiple emails and conference calls. In addition, the Elon University students established a pen pal relationship with Namibian "learners" at Ekulo secondary school, located in the rural area of northern Namibia. By extending this friendship across the world, the Periclean Scholars gained insight into the culture of adolescent Namibia, while they gave Namibians a better understanding of American culture (for example, they learned that Americans do not personally know Eminem, nor do they talk to him on a regular basis).
The Periclean Scholars also organized two book drives on campus and mailed the materials to Catholic AIDS Action,which benefited 16,000 AIDS orphans
During the fall semester of 2003, the Periclean Scholars also welcomed the second Periclean-in-Residence, Philippe Talavera, to Elon's campus. Philippe is an accomplished scholar from France, and an AIDS activist that had spent the previous six years living and working in Namibia to fight the spread of the disease. He is the director of the Red Ribbon Campaign in Namibia, and served as an excellent resource for the entire community by exposing a broad audience to the harsh realities of the pandemic in Namibia. He explained many of the cultural issues, inconceivable to Americans, which have allowed the disease to proliferate at such an uncontrollable rate and caused such a devastating impact.
Much of Phillipe's work in Namibia is with the youth of Namibia; many of whom starred in the documentary The Shining Lights of Opuwo which premiered during his stay. This documentary was developed from the video footage collected by Dr. Tom Arcaro and J McMerty the previous summer; and the focus is on the Putavanga AIDS Awareness Club, a group of approximately 20 young Namibians that travel around Namibia doing performances to both school assemblies and community groups, teaching their audiences about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, and ways to protect themselves from contracting the disease. The film features two typical songs and dances of this group that provides a colorful vehicle for conveying their important, frank, and touching messages. The interviews with community members after the performance give voice to the many dimensions of the HIV/AIDS dilemma faced by Namibia.