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Theatre Artist Nathaniel Quinn Striving to End Poverty

Nathaniel Quinnby Alexia Neal
Originally published by The Argonaut 4/25/14

Nathaniel Quinn, a theater graduate student at the University of Idaho, is traveling to Bangalore, India, for more than just a summer vacation. Through the Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP) program, he will teach English and promote the arts to children in an impoverished city.

University of Idaho grad student Nathaniel Quinn demonstrates his teaching personality before he volunteers this summer, teaching theatre to children in India.

“The idea is that poverty isn’t just financial,” Quinn said. “This program is providing different aspects of an education to children that may not get it otherwise.”

Quinn leaves May 15 to embark on a six-week journey in a city 23 hours away by plane. He will teach English and the arts to students at a K-12 school.

Although it is a poverty-stricken city, the school he will teach at is more modernized with running water and electricity, he said. The students and teachers all stay in dorms on the campus while school is in session.

Even though most aspects of the school is fairly modern, Quinn said he will have to use a bucket of water to shower and will only have access to electricity from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. He said he loves camping and the outdoors so it won’t bother him.

Quinn expects a typical day at the school to be easy going and exciting but very long. The school is in session six days a week. He said he only expects to have free time at night — the rest will be dedicated to the children.

“I will be teaching the entire time I’m there,” Quinn said. “The more time I get to spend with the kids the better.”

David Lee-Painter, a professor of theatre at UI for 20 years, said there is no better person for this opportunity than Quinn.

“He’s all about helping others and he badly wants to make a difference in the world,” Lee-Painter said. “This opportunity will help him see the world and different cultures as well as make that difference.”

Quinn said his biggest fear is failing a student in some way. Many of the students at the school come from a background of poverty and Quinn said he hopes he can help them escape from that at the school, if only for a couple of hours. But Lee-Painter said this is not one of the worries he has for Quinn.

“I think he is very perceptive at figuring out how to get everyone involved,” Lee-Painter said. “He is very intuitive about whomever he is working with.”

Quinn has set a goal to raise $3,000 before he leaves for India in mid-May and is currently at 9 percent of his goal. He said this money will mostly cover the cost of his plane ticket, as a lot of the other funds are covered by the volunteer program. His website is located at firstgiving.com/fundraisor/nathanielquinn.