Sophia Perlmutter ’18 Headed Back to Belize Friends School

Sophia Perlmutter ’18, is in Guilford’s Quaker Leadership Scholars Program and will be a senior this coming year. She is also double majoring in Sustainable Food Systems and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, as well as a Hunger Fellow for the Bonner Center and in the Honors Program.  Sophia is headed back to Belize Friends School this summer to work with the students there. Here is a bit of her story about the upcoming trip and if you’d like to support her, you can do so on the Go Fund Me page she set up for the trip.

“Visiting Belize was one of the most meaningful experiences that I have been fortunate to be a part of since coming to Guilford. I have always loved working with kids and was immediately interested in studying abroad and working with students. I really fell in love with the students, especially the younger ones since I feel more comfortable working with elementary school aged students. Many of them haven’t been offered as many opportunities as we have been offered here in the states, there aren’t always enough teachers in classrooms, materials are sometimes low, and in the case of Belize Friends school, ages 10-15 are taught together, which allows for multiple learning levels and often not enough one-on-one support. The students were incredibly kind and welcoming to us and would teach us things in return, allowing for a natural give-and-take relationship to develop between our group and the students, which was a really nice thing to be a part of.

I am being called back to work at the Belize Friends School because I felt that I didn’t have nearly enough time to work with the students and feel that it makes sense to go back and continue to teach, learn, and grow. When I was younger I had a hard time in school and it took me awhile to realize that I was smart and capable of doing the work. I was lucky because my school offered tutors and learning specialists that were able to help me understand the material in a different way and gain confidence. Many of the students at the Belize Friends School are behind in school because they weren’t given the opportunity to go, or they had an undiagnosed learning disability that made it hard for them to keep up in school. From working one on one with the students for just 10 days, I could see them gaining confidence and understanding the material better because they had someone giving them individual attention. This extra support is exactly what I needed when I was in school and if I am able to give it back to someone, that’s exactly what I will seek out to do.”

You can support this work here: The Belize Friends School Go Fund Me Page


Maureen “Sunshine” Smith receives the Judith Waller Harvey Award in Campus Ministry

Today was our annual spring awards. It is a celebratory time to gather and recognize the gifts, talents, and hard work of our students on campus.  We have so many wonderful students doing amazing things that it’s hard to identify them all, but today one very special student known on campus as “Sunshine” received the campus ministry award. She is a religious studies student, a minister in Greensboro, and has worked closely with campus ministry over the years. She is truly a spark of light on campus and we are so really proud of all she has accomplished.

To give you just a small glimpse into how special Sunshine is, I hope you will read this blog post from the Guilford College news update.

Her name is Maureen Smith ’17. But virtually everyone on the planet calls her “Sunshine.” She’s carried that nickname her whole life—since her brothers gave her the moniker when they were little kids playing church. She lives up to her name with a consistently sunny disposition and a genuine desire to be a light for others. On April 3, her bright presence saved a man’s life.

The 47-year-old Guilford College CCE student majoring in Religious Studies says that day began with her feeling a profound sense of peace. As her Quaker Spirituality class closed with its traditional three minutes of silence, Sunshine was moved to stand and share what she was sensing.

“I told the class that I felt disarmed and powerful—not disarmed and vulnerable,” she says. “In that moment I believed there was an innate armor protecting me.” She told her classmates that she loved them and gave everyone a hug as she left class.

Sunshine immediately proceeded to meet a friend at a local restaurant, even though the restaurant was not one she favored to say the least. During their conversation, she shared the importance of “being centered” and how to be “more present in the moment.”

Read the rest of the story on Guilford College’s website.