March 9, 2000 - Daily Princetonian: Uruguay RPCV Rashaan Harris wins Franklin Award

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Uruguay: Peace Corps Uruguay : The Peace Corps in Uruguay: March 9, 2000 - Daily Princetonian: Uruguay RPCV Rashaan Harris wins Franklin Award

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Uruguay RPCV Rashaan Harris wins Franklin Award

Uruguay RPCV Rashaan Harris wins Franklin Award

Harris '95: In the service of all nations

Marshall Owens
Princetonian Contributor

Photo by Peace Corps
Peace Corps Deputy Director Chuck Baquet (l.) congratulates Rashaan Harris 95 for winning the Williams award.
Though Rashaan Harris '95 was exposed to a wide range of scholastic knowledge from textbooks to professors during his four years at Princeton, he still sought other answers he knew he would have to pursue on his own.

But he never thought he would find them in South America.

Harris served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uruguay from 1995 to 1997. During this time he received a $2,000 grant from the National Institute of Youth in Uruguay for his contributions to the country. Harris later became a Peace Corps USA Fellow at Columbia University, where he attended graduate school.

Last month, the Peace Corps awarded Harris the Franklin H. Williams Award, which honors African-American Peace Corps members for community service contributions.

Harris said his years in the Peace Corps exposed him to a variety of cultures. "It was unforgettable," he said. "The biggest gift I got was it taught me there are many different paradigms of thinking and vast possibilities."

The Peace Corps, according to its mission statement, was founded "to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women." About 155,000 volunteers and trainees, with 7,000 active members, have served in the Peace Corps in 134 countries since 1961.

While at the University, Harris was a member of BodyHype and Cap & Gown Club in addition to running track for two years and playing sprint football. He was also the caretaker of the Third World Center and started the Princeton Leukemia Society. He said he remembers his years at Princeton as "a great opportunity to be exposed to a diverse perspective from all over the world."

Harris said his varied experiences at the University led to his decision to join the Peace Corps. He studied abroad twice, conducting marine biology research in Mexico and senior thesis research in Chile. He also volunteered in Mexico during the summer after his freshman year.

In May 1999 after serving in the Peace Corps, Harris became a Community Fellow with the Open Society Institute of the Soros Lewis Foundation. He was offered the position because of his work with the online Harlem youth magazine Harlem Live.


The magazine gives students an opportunity to voice their opinions through news articles, poetry, fiction, photography, cartoons and artwork. Harris said he conducts fundraising and developmental work for the magazine, which offers students exposure to technology and provides future networking opportunities for young children.

"It's kind of like an entrepreneurial program. I am helping the grass roots building of an institution by assessing community needs," Harris said. "We are trying to build something sustainable."

Harris said he believes his experiences in the Peace Corps were a positive influence during the formative years of his life. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and a great way to explore yourself in a larger world," he said. "Also, it's great for dinner conversation and parties."

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Story Source: Daily Princetonian

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Uruguay; Awards



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