Meeting Divine Chocolate Cocoa Farmers, Christiana & Afriye

As the season turned to spring on the first of May, it came time for the Penn State Brandywine Fair Trade Trailblazers to once again don the great banana suit and conduct one final performance on fair trade to a energetic group of students at Media Elementary School.

The fantastic event, organized by Earth & State, invited fair trade Divine Chocolate farmers, Christiana Adusei and Afriye Kwesi Boateng, to discuss the cocoa farming process to all of us in Media. Let me tell you, all of us were amazed by the amount of hard work that went into harvesting cocoa!

As consumers, we only really get to see the neatly-packaged end product of hours and hours of painstaking labor. And so, meeting Christiana and Afriye in person and hearing their stories helped so much to bring the process alive; engaging in conversations with them about their lives humanized the great effort in producing a simple bar of chocolate.

The event made me realize that in this era of increased globalization and amazing technological advancements, communication is truly the key in making the world a more transparent and more moral place–one in which unethical labor practices cannot go unanswered.

Aimee and I performed the prelude to the event with a short dialogue. While Aimee had a basket of fair trade items that she enthusiastically showed off and explained to the crowd, I was dressed in a banana suit, telling the crowd of the story of the lives of bananas as they are farmed and, later, sold in the USA.

Overall, we had a wonderful time meeting so many amazing people in the local and national fair trade action team. It was an absolute privilege to talk to everyone from Divine Chocolate and Earth & State!

To learn more about Afriye and Christiana, check out the Media Fair Trade Committee’s May newsletter!

Contributed by Fair Trade Intern, Labanya Mookerjee.

Fair Trade Gathering over Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

After weeks of rainy days, the sun came up strong and bright for our meeting with Elizabeth Killough, chair of the Media Fair Trade Town Committee, and David Rosenberg, generous donor of the Laboratory for Civic Engagement. Over lunch, we discussed  the inspiring origins of the fair trade movement in Media and talked about ways to sustain and expand awareness in the coming years.

The interesting thing about fair trade, said Killough, is that “it is something that appeals to everyone across the spectrum.”

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Dr. Laura Guertin with Elizabeth Killough

The conversation took on a whole new dynamic as lunch turned into a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream social, which was part of the celebration for our winning the nationwide Go Bananas for Fair Trade campaign. Students that had helped with Fair Trade events in the fall semester (the Alta Gracia t-shirt swap and bananas) were treated to free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Director of the Penn State Brandywine Laboratory for Civic Engagement, Dr. Laura Guertin, assembled this incredible pyramid of fair trade greatness, composed of 18 delicious fair trade flavors of Ben & Jerry’s. She even created fresh whipped cream with fair trade sugar to top off our dessert creations!

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Ice-cream has a special way of bringing everyone together, and between scoops, we not only talked about the social issues surrounding the fair trade movement and its impact on communities internationally, but also on Ben & Jerry’s trailblazing path to a more just world. The company truly stands as a model for other influential corporations to follow.

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Senior and Fair Trade Intern for Media’s Fair Trade Town Committee, Aimee Ralph, enjoys her bowl of Ben & Jerry’s

Overall, the celebration was quite a success and each of us departed, brimming with enthusiasm for future fair trade events!

Contributed by Labanya Mookerjee, Fair Trade Intern