By Albert Lawrence, 2003 Scholar | When 1998 Coca-Cola Scholar Tiffany Hodge hears the Bangla word Apu—meaning sister—she can’t help but smile. For much of her postgraduate career, Tiffany has worked closely with 100 children who reside in Bangladesh’s Char Fasson Orphanage. The affectionate term the children use to address her underscores the rapport Tiffany has with the orphans.
Tiffany’s relationship with Char Fasson dates back to 2001, when she visited Bangladesh as an undergraduate at DePauw University. During that trip, she says she was “taken with the generosity and hospitality” that she encountered within the Muslim community. She continued to nurture her interest in Bangladesh by returning to the country in 2004 and 2005.
In 2008, Tiffany received a Fulbright scholar- ship, which allowed her to resume her work with
Char Fasson. It also provided the perfect opportunity to conduct research for her dissertation on religious authority and dispute resolution for Emory University. In addition, Tiffany was able to work with the United Nations Development Programme’s Democracy and Governance Cluster. She says this final piece “rounded out” her experience by placing her on the inside of a large organization committed to funding projects in Bangladesh.
Tiffany’s array of encounters in Bangladesh equipped her with enough savvy and resources to co-found two organizations that directly address the needs of the Char Fasson orphans. The first, the Bangladesh Children’s Educational Endowment, is responsible for sending at least two of its participants to university. The second, the Char Fasson Children’s Fund, raises funds, establishes connections within the community, and provides vocational training for the orphans.
Following the completion of her dissertation, Tiffany aspires to become a professor—and she plans to continue supporting the children of Bangladesh. She hopes that her service efforts will empower others to become active global citizens.
Considering the amount of affection that Tiffany exchanges with the orphans of Char Fasson—and the dedication she has to helping them succeed—it’s no wonder that she dons the title of Apu with pride.
Albert Lawrence is a 2003 Coca-Cola Scholar and a 2007 graduate from Yale University. He currently lives in Los Angeles, where he produces and hosts the Internet-based entertainment program, Talk of Fame (www.talkoffame.com).