Regarding Shanky

Shanky gave us all quite a scare this weekend. I’m still proud of him, but keep your head, man. Below is a letter I wrote to stakeholders in Shanky’s fate, Stateside. I suppose it does better than anything to reflect my feelings on the incident, and how it relates to me personally and how it relates to my role as LCP.

On 2/24/08, Preston Frost Rhea <Preston.Rhea@gatech.edu> wrote:
Hello all,

This is regarding Sean, who was mugged on Saturday February 16 in Nairobi, Kenya, while on an AIESEC traineeship there. Thus far he has been in Kenya for about three and a half weeks. The details are found on his blog: http://orangehat.nomadlife.org/

The people on this email are myself, Local Committee President of AIESEC at Georgia Tech; Laleh Khoogar, VP Outgoing Exchange for AIESEC at Georgia Tech; Jessica Forrest, Sean’s OGXpert (someone who is responsible for overseeing him while abroad); Dr. John McIntyre, AIESEC at Georgia Tech’s faculty advisor; Michael Flood and Peter Stewart, two members of our Board of Advisors; Debbie Gulick, who is in charge of GT Work Abroad; Margaret Kolk, Sean’s mother; Pinar Comezoglu, the head of the Student Process Team for AIESEC US; and Missy Shields, Member Committee President of AIESEC United States.

The consensus of AIESEC at Georgia Tech’s Board of Advisors is to advise Sean and his family that Sean should return home. They believe that the risks outweigh the benefits of staying in Kenya, and the Board does understand that as posted on his blog Sean does not intend to come home. Dr. McIntyre has also expressed concern at our BOA meeting about someone being allowed to go to that country given the political situation. However, Sean had communicated with Debbie Gulick about going there, and he had to sign a contract with AIESEC US.

I did not hear about this until I was forwarded the post that Mrs. Kolk had made on Sean’s blog regarding the attack, early Saturday morning the 23rd. I sent an email to his TN manager, but that was all I could do (she has still not responded). Laleh and I therefore identified some further steps that AIESEC at Georgia Tech will take in preparing all of its EPs to realize their traineeships, including getting a portfolio for each EP with their own contact info as well as that of their caretakers and responsible individuals in the LC abroad. Email addresses, skype and msn addresses, and phone numbers will all be sought. The Board would also like for each EP who is matched to go before a review board to make sure that they are fit to go to where they choose, and mostly to “ground” any possible liability issues that may come up. I support such a process.

I must also express my own feelings, as sending Sean was an emotional experience for all of us in AIESEC at Georgia Tech. Even in the very short time he has been there, the change in Sean’s perspective has been enormous and evident through conversations and his blog posts. One of the first things I thought after being scared for him was, “I know he doesn’t want to leave.” I was in fact relieved to see that stated by him on his blog. Sean is one of those people who is learning lessons many of us never will because he has cast away the lines that would bind us, of fear and uncertainty and simply the hum of those around him damaging the Dream he seeks, in order to learn what life is, and what Kenya is, and how to change your own life by changing several others. I would feel considerably differently if his injury was related to the political situation there, but it was not, and I have half a mind to give him another head injury for being so hard-headed and walking in a dangerous area. But I know that he has learned a lot from this experience as well, and I trust Sean to return to us when he feels he is ready. How much better we all will be for it, I can only guess.

As the charge, I would like for all concerned parties to consider Dr. McIntyre to be the contact point for the Board of Advisors and for myself to be the contact point for the LC. Pinar, if there is someone other than you who should be the contact point for the MC, then let this thread know who that is.

I look forward to the clean conclusion of these difficult events. Cheers,

Preston

Thankfully they have concluded cleanly, with Shanky’s parents supporting his decision to stay in Kenya. He still has eight months of work left to do.

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Preston

Agent of Change, Former of Entropy, Seeker of a Stateless World.

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