PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

Grants Fund International Projects

by Cynthia L. McVey

George Liston Seay '62

During the summer between his junior and senior years at HWS, George Liston Seay '62 sailed to Europe aboard The North Lord with a stop to load wheat in Montreal along the way. After he disembarked in Rotterdam, Seay toured Germany, Denmark, France, Italy and Belgium before returning home.

"It was life changing," he says of the experience. "It added to literature and history the aspect of moving about in the world."

His voyage, made possible by the generosity of the merchant ship's owner, who was also the father of his friend and classmate George Pappadakis '61, was so compelling that more than 40 years later, Seay decided to help current students have the same kinds of experiences.

Seay funds the Student International Initiative Fund ("Seay Grants") at Hobart and William Smith, which gives financial assistance to students studying abroad to, as Seay stipulated when he set up the gift, "do their own projects that bind them to the cultures that surround them."

With the Seay Grants, the Center for Global Education is able to provide funds to students who wish to take on a project above and beyond the regular course of study abroad. These projects may have an academic focus or may be more about personal cultural enrichment.

"Through Seay's generosity, we have supported a long list of projects over the years with the purpose of encouraging students to engage their host societies and become more immersed," says Tom D'Agostino, director of the Center for Global Education. "This has enabled students to create personalized projects that literally take their 'worlds of experience' and make them meaningful."

Students studying abroad who receive Seay Grants have been given the latitude, as Seay explains, to do "anything they think leads them deeper into the lives of the people they are getting to know."

The projects to date have varied. Among them have been a number of self-published magazines called 'zines; a chapbook of poems; essays; and dance, art and photographic projects.

“The Seay grant benefits creative students who want to delve into a new culture in a unique way,” says Alicia Gregory '09, a grant recipient who produced a ’zine about life in South Africa.

"I placed 200 copies around campus, and they were gone within a week! I know the same has happened with the 'zines following mine - a testament to the campus curiosity about the border-crossing experience. It is because of the Seay Grant that this interest and curiosity can be fed with such a breadth of creative projects."

Diana Haydock '09

Diana Haydock '09, an art history and European studies double major, used her Seay grant to create a Braille map of Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore while participating in the Rome program.

"This project encompassed all of my passions and really brought my experiences at HWS together," Haydock says. "Mr. Seay helped me help others. It's been like a positive domino effect."

After returning from abroad, Seay graduated from Hobart College with a B.A. in English but continued to pursue global experiences by joining the Peace Corps and spending three years in Brazil. He spent an additional four years in Brazil with the Foreign Service Office before returning to the U.S. long enough to graduate from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton. He then worked for the Ford Foundation in Mexico and ultimately returned to Washington, D.C., where he has hosted a radio and television program focused on international affairs, "Dialogue." For more information on "Dialogue," see page 56.

"For all those experiences, the grant made sense," he explains. "It makes me feel good because it is what I lived."

For more information about supporting study abroad or creative projects, contact Kelly Young, director of donor relations, at or (315) 781-3783.


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.