Ebola Aid Worker

Alexia Rantala to speak of experiences as aid worker in Liberia during Ebola crisis
February 11, 2016

• Alexia (Bililies) Rantala ’09, International Studies and HUA, will return to campus on Monday to give an IGSD-Humanities & Arts Brown Bag Talk, “Ebola is Real: Diary of an Aid Worker in Liberia.”

Rantala volunteered in 2014–15 with Save the Children as a first responder educational specialist during the Ebola crisis in Liberia, where she set up educational programs for children and youth while schools were closed. Working with the Liberian Ministry of Education, she developed protocols for the safe reopening of schools. She coordinated alternative educational instruction throughout the country during the deadly epidemic, which took the lives of 4,809 victims in Liberia and 11,315 throughout West Africa, leaving some 22,000 children orphaned.

Who: Alexia (Bililies) Rantala ’09

What: Brown Bag Talk, “Ebola is Real: Diary of an Aid Worker in Liberia”

When: Monday, Feb. 15, noon to 1:30 p.m.

Where: Rubin Campus Center, Hagglund Room

At WPI, Rantala studied Spanish in Spain, completed an IQP on HIV/Aids prevention in Namibia, and did her MQP on community medicine in the Dominican Republic. She earned a master’s in disaster management at the University of Copenhagen in 2010. She has carried out disaster education activities for Finn Church Aid in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, Myanmar, and South Sudan. She is currently working with Teach for America at Harlem Village Academies in New York City as a special education teacher while pursuing a double master’s degree in general and special education at Brooklyn College.

“I first met Alexia at a WPI Open House in the spring of her senior year in high school,” says Bland Addison, associate professor, HUA. “She told me how she was very excited about coming to WPI because of its extensive global project program. I was captivated by her enthusiasm for cross-cultural knowledge and aspirations to do service work across the world. I promptly emailed her a list of readings that any future international studies major should do over the summer. We’ve been friends ever since, and I am continually amazed by her still-early but amazing career.”

The talk is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Professor Addison at 508-831-5190, Addison@wpi.edu.