FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Fairfield University graduate Daniel Jones, Class of 2013, was on a senior year service-immersion trip in El Salvador when he realized he wanted to do much more than build houses or repair roads for the people of this country, who have endured civil war for more than a decade.
Listening to them talk about their commitment to building a stronger El Salvador, despite the hardships, Jones realized he wanted to return and join them. "Their stories struck at my core," said Jones, a native of Portland, Maine. "We do not give service or charity; we commit ourselves to living in solidarity with Salvadorans and fighting for the justice all people deserve."
A year after graduating, Jones has been selected for a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Programs research grant to El Salvador for the 2014-15 academic year. A politics major with a minor in anthropology, he plans to study family and community engagement in rural El Salvador.
"I will visit rural communities, participate in the daily lives of their residents and sit in on community council meetings and other gatherings," said Jones, who will study community projects and how there are funded. "I hope to better understand the nature of community engagement and the role of the family unit in this process. The outcome? Creating a list of strategies that rural Salvadoran communities can use to more effectively receive funding for their community projects. Additionally, I'll look at the impacts that these funding sources have on the rural communities and their families."
Jones' host country affiliation will be with Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ), a faith-based organization that emphasizes building solidarity between communities in the U.S. and rural El Salvador. In March 2013, CRISPAZ hosted the Campus Ministry-led student delegation from Fairfield University that included Jones.
Currently a program coordinator for the University's Student Affairs Division, Jones, who lives on campus, has had several life-changing experiences while at Fairfield. As a sophomore, he participated in another Campus Ministry-led trip to Nicaragua. He was also involved in the Students for Social Justice (S4SJ) club. At the 2013 commencement, he received the Saint Ignatius Loyola Medal, an award for outstanding university service.
Jones hopes his experiences will lead to a doctorate in anthropology.
The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by the U.S. government to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries," according to its website. About 310,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the program since its inception. It awards 8,000 grants annually. Since 1993, 63 Fairfield graduates have received awards from the program.
"Fairfield has established a tradition of graduating exceptional men and women deemed worthy of a Fulbright scholarship," said Jermain Griffin, associate director of Fairfield's International Studies Program. "This is attributed to Fairfield's long standing commitment to the core and to the holistic development of its students."