AUM Faculty Member Reconnects With Child’s Birth Country
YELLOW SPRINGS, OH—Antioch University Midwest announced today that one of America’s leading adoption resources, Adoption Today’s editor Kim Phagan-Hansel, will join Sonya Fultz, a member of the teaching faculty in the School of Education, journeying to Guatemala next month.
The pair will visit various organizations working to help vulnerable children in a country that has the highest rate of childhood malnutrition in Latin America and is number 4 in the world for growth stunting. The five-day trip will include several stops along the way, including visiting rural villages, schools, several orphanages, and delivering bunk beds to a families in need.
Fultz, who chairs the Middle Childhood and Adolescent Young Adult Graduate Teacher Licensure Programs, lives AUM’s vision to offer learners and communities transformative education in a global context that fosters innovation and inspires social action though her service work in Guatemala. Fultz has been on the board of Behrhorst Partners for Development since 2008 and has led reconnections trips for local adoptive families to return to Guatemala and engage in giving back to their children’s birth countries for the past 10 years.
Fultz looks forward to sharing her experiences with Phagan-Hansel as an advocate for organizations in Guatemala and area adoptive families to stay engaged in giving back to their children’s birth country.
“I’m excited to witness all of this amazing work first-hand and to help spread the word about these incredible organizations making it happen,” Phagan-Hansel said. “After working in the adoption field for more than 12 years, this will provide a unique opportunity to witness the experiences of families struggling in some of the world’s poorest countries and how we can all come together to help children in need.”
One of the first stops will be to Saquiya, a village that partners with Behrhorst Partners for Development. Working to reduce chronic childhood malnutrition in rural Guatemala, BPD has partnered with Mayan communities for more than 40 years to help communities access clean water, improve sanitation, and increase food production, among other goals. Through the visit to Saquiya, Phagan-Hansel will witness BPD’s on-the-ground work to benefit vulnerable families and children.
“For years I’ve had the pleasure of sharing the stories of adoptive families who have returned to their child’s birth country to give back to the children and families left behind,” Phagan-Hansel said. “It will be an honor to witness that commitment first-hand.”
Other highlights of the trip will be delivering bunk beds through El Amor de Patricia’s Bunk Bed Project, visiting children in Rose de Amor Orphanage, and understanding the work of Cooperative for Education striving to break the cycle of poverty through education. With more than half of the country’s population living in poverty, the need is great in the country of roughly 13 million people.
Fultz shares, “We are not traveling to be heroes, rather we go as humble friends to learn alongside the Guatemalan people. We are honored to be welcomed into the classroom where local people are the teachers and global partnership is the curriculum.”
Stories from the early April visit will be shared in upcoming issues of Adoption Today, as well as in organization newsletters, with the ultimate goal of sharing each organization’s work with a broader audience through additional media outlets and highlighting the connection of Fultz’ service work to the mission and vision of Antioch University Midwest.
About Antioch University Midwest: Antioch University Midwest is one of the five campuses of Antioch University, an institution proud of serving adult learners and their specific needs. Antioch University is a multi-campus university of more than 4,000 students who study at the Antioch Midwest campus in Yellow Springs, OH, and at campuses in Seattle, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Keene, New Hampshire, online and around the world!
Christopher M. Williams