Central College senior completes a life changing project

Central College graduating senior Emily Grant was honored on Friday, May 29th in Des Moines as this year’s Iowa College AmeriCorps Program (ICAP) Member of the Year winner by Iowa Campus Compact. This new award honors students for their efforts to build capacity in an organization in their community.

Emily Grant is studying Cultural Anthropology and International East Asian Studies. She has served two terms in the Iowa College AmeriCorps Program, both at the Tai Studies Center (TSC). Through AmeriCorps, she has helped to advance the work of the Tai Dam people to be officially recognized as an organization by the United Nations.


Emily Grant accepting her award with IACC Board Chair President Barbara Decker and Executive Director Emily Shields.
“Emily’s dedication and the quality of her work far exceed the norm. Her research has been very valuable to the TSC in our successful effort to gain recognition as an international NGO organization, and to pursue our UN project. We have deeply appreciated her assistance,” said Siang Bacthi, Executive Director of the Tai Studies Center.

Emily conducted research on the Tai Dam people’s history including how and why they were removed from Vietnam in the 1950’s and late 1970’s. Her research included interviewing members of the Tai Dam community who lived in refugee camps until they arrived in Iowa. One member of the community told Emily how they were sleeping in mud and making blankets out of leaves in order to stay warm.

“It was a life changing project,” Emily said of her service. “I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into and I didn’t expect the impact that I would have on them or they would have on me.”

Across the state 170 college students serve each year in the Iowa College AmeriCorps Program. They provide 300-450 hours of service to community organizations in capacity-building roles.

“All ICAP members do great work, but not all members have the opportunity to make an impact on international relations,” said Cheri Doane, Director of the Center for Community-Based Learning at Central College.