Senior colloquium buys llamas

by Karl Lang

A Global Human Rights senior colloquium class recently purchased two llamas for third-world families as a way to affect people beyond Indianola.

The llamas were bought through Heifer International, a program that works to give families and communities a source of food rather than short-term relief. They cost $150 each.

Patricia Calkins, associate professor of German, is teaching the class and said the class was looking to make all Iowans interested in this subject.

“The way we’re looking at this class is how do we make Iowans get interested enough in human rights that they do something about it?” Calkins said. “All of our projects and everything have to do with getting people to actually take a step to help global human rights.”

The idea for the project was spurred by a class discussion on how they could personally make a difference in the lives of underprivileged people around the world.

“The people in the class were really feeling like, ‘you know, we have these strategies of what we can do, but what is the actual concrete thing you can do next?'” Calkins said. “I decided one day to bring to class a couple of the options of the sorts of non-profit organizations that are out there, that allow you to help people in a small way, but make a really big impact.”

Calkins credits the idea for the class to take part in the Heifer project to senior Jenni Humphrey, who organized the fundraiser for the class.

“We had been talking about different organizations, and I just went on the Heifer Web site – it was just something that came to mind,” Humphrey said. “There are 15 of us in the class, and a llama costs $150, so if we each gave $10 it would be a really easy thing and we could say we did something.”

According to Humphrey, it was a class project, not just her idea alone.

“I really want to give a lot of people in the class credit because it was them who gave,” Humphrey said. “Because of [the class] we met more than our goal by the deadline on March 24.”

Most of the students in the class feel like discussing human rights issues isn’t enough, and that they need to take some action toward helping those in need.

“It makes so much more sense than sitting around and talking about this stuff in class then reading about how bad things are in the world, and yada yada yada,” senior Libby Ehrig said. “We can talk about it all we want, but it won’t get us anywhere if it’s not going to help anybody.”

Calkins remains excited about the implications this project has for her class and the entire student body. She said it’s a good way for students to make a bigger impact on the world around them.

“It’s exactly the sort of thing you want to have happen in a class – where the students take the topic that’s in the class and turn it into something that is important in their lives, and then make a positive impact on people they don’t even know,” Calkins said. “Everybody that I have told about it and I’ve been telling everybody, thinks it’s a great idea, and they want to see if there might be a way to do this on an institutional kind of scale.”

To make a donation, contact Calkins or visit