Princeton: Orphans International’s First College Club

Princeton. N.J. Mid-February, cold and wet. Packed onto New Jersey Transit’s rush-hour trains, we were off to organize our first university: Princeton. We began in the dining room at Forbes College, Orphans International Worldwide Officer John Lee, O.I.W.’s U.N. representative Margo LaZaro, and myself.

OI Princeton Club - Virginia Maloney (1)
O.I.W. Princeton Club Founder Virginia Maloney at
first organizing dinner with OI Founder Jim Luce.

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Eighteen interested student leaders came to hear our presentation over dinner, slides of our smiling children from around the world projected on the big screen behind us.

The three energetic student organizers – Virginia Maloney, Phoebe White, and Mackenzie Luzzi – had done a wonderful job getting their friends to attend. A reporter from the student newspaper was present.

As I presented the ‘OI Story,’ the group was particularly attentive. The Q&A was intense. So many options spread before them: official status as a university club, a NYC OI summer internship reserved for a Princeton student, online tasks via our website, overseas volunteer opportunities, even child sponsorship opportunities…

The Princeton students were energized to learn they were the first group to organize an OI college club.

Virginia, Phoebe, and Mackenzie sit on the OI Worldwide Global Youth Advisory Board, together with students from Brown, Harvard, and Wesley. HSH Prince Albert of Monaco heads the Global Advisory Board itself. The three young women were walking in his regal footsteps.

The brainstorming began. There were many fundraising ideas, coupled with inviting students from OI project nations to join with them. Some Princeton students, they knew, had to come from Haiti, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania.

It was decided to have our global team return to Princeton to speak at a larger campus gathering in April. Could OIWW Officers Amin from Indonesia and Haitian-American Toni Cela join us? John Lee would be back in Sri Lanka by then. Margo would continue to coordinate from our end.

During a break from the eager and animated group, I chatted with a chef wearing a tall white hat who I immediately knew was from sun-drenched Haiti. “Croix-de-Bouquet,” he said. I knew the sleepy town – with the best iron-worked arts-and-crafts in Haiti. He was pleased to hear of our efforts in Gonaives and Jacmel in the homeland he had left so long ago.

Princeton students and OI Team - 600Princeton students and OI Team met to found
the first O.I.W. university club in February, 2008.

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As we returned to the train, walking across the beautiful tree-covered Ivy League campus made me reminisce about my own education at the “Princeton of the Midwest” – the College of Wooster in Ohio. Both schools had been founded by Presbyterians. Neither Princeton nor Wooster had been affiliated with the Presbyterians for years, but our history is linked.

Because of my experience in college with Presbyterians, I had stopped in Sulawesi, Indonesia twelve years ago – at the dilapidated Presbyterian orphanage where I had met my son Mathew, then ten months old. Thus, my own journey in helping humanity had begun. I believe here in Princeton I might have helped begin a journey for the next generation.

Originally published in the Orphans International (OI) Blogspot,  Feb. 23, 2008.
http://oiprinceton.blogspot.com/

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About Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens

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Jim Luce: Thought Leaders & Global Citizens
Jim Luce (www.lucefoundation.org) writes and speaks on Thought Leaders and Global Citizens. Bringing 26 years management experience within both investment banking and the non-profit sector, Jim has worked for Daiwa Bank, Merrill Lynch, a spin-off of Lazard Freres, and two not-for profit organizations and a foundation he founded. As Founder & CEO of Orphans International Worldwide (www.oiww.org), he is working with a strong network of committed professionals to build interfaith, interracial, Internet-connected orphanages in Haiti and Indonesia, and creating a new, family-care model for orphans in Sri Lanka and Tanzania.