All posts by lmeyerl1

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 Named Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 has always had a knack for writing.

“I remember being in fourth grade, and we had to take this state exam,” says Hernandez, of Hidalgo, Texas. “We had to write essays for it and whatnot. They graded us from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. I remember I was the only kid in my class who got a 4. It was a big deal at the time.”

A decade later, Hernandez has been selected for the Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellowship, a program that provides funding, mentorship, and support for student journalists to report on global issues that are rarely covered in the national media. The fellowship is made possible by a three-year partnership between Swarthmore and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Hernandez’s writing is one of the things that set him apart for the fellowship.

“We were all moved by Ramiro’s writing samples,” says Katie Price, associate director of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility and a member of the selection committee. “He writes in a way that stays with you; it is haunting and beautiful.”

Anya Slepyan ’22, the recipient of last year’s fellowship and a member of this year’s selection committee, agreed. “He was a really strong writer throughout his application,” she says. “He used very powerful language.”

This achievement should come as no surprise to a student like Hernandez, a QuestBridge Scholar, Richard Rubin Scholar, and 2020 recipient of Swarthmore’s Center for Innovation and Leadership summer grant. Already holding postsecondary degrees in medical Spanish and interdisciplinary studies, he is now an honors student with a special major in peace & conflict studies, educational studies, and medical anthropology.

“We put forward multiple outstanding candidates, and we’re thrilled that the Pulitzer Center has chosen to recognize Ramiro Hernandez,” says Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center. “His brilliance and passion will be put to good use,”

This summer, Hernandez will be reporting from his hometown of Hidalgo, which is located just five minutes away from the Mexican border. Under the mentorship of Pulitzer Center grantee journalists and staff, he will cover the stories of immigrant veterans in the U.S. who are either undocumented or have troubles with immigration.

These veterans “serve in the armed forces with the promise of citizenship, either for themselves or for their loved ones,” Hernandez says. “And then after their contract ends, they’re either deported or the promise that they were given is not fulfilled.”

The topic is deeply personal for Hernandez.

“Many of the people I care about, including many friends and loved ones, experience issues with immigration,” Hernandez says. He hopes that his reporting with the Pulitzer Center will help to inform future immigration policy and legislation.

“I want to be able to bring these issues to a national spotlight, and the Pulitzer Center has a big platform,” says Hernandez, whose final project will be featured on the Pulitzer Center website and, with the help of the center, pitched to other news outlets.

“In making the final selection, we agreed that Ramiro not only had the facility to tell the story well, but also that he had an important story to tell,” says Price. “While we hear news about immigration and military operations on an almost-daily basis, Ramiro’s project will address these topics in a way that is unique, underreported, and intersectional.”

This story originally appeared in Swarthmore News & Events. It was written by Madeleine Palden ’22.

Swarthmore Community Comes Together for King Speech Reading in collaboration with Breaking the Silence

A number of major civil rights organizations, including The Fellowship of Reconciliation, the SNCC Legacy Project, and the Highlander Center, came together this month to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s April 4, 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” in which he for the first time publicly advocated for an end to the U.S. war in Vietnam. Dr. King was assassinated exactly one year later after delivering the speech. The nation-wide webinar, “Breaking the Silence: An Intergenerational Call for Unity” occurred on the anniversary of the speech and consisted of its public reading as well as a panelist discussion.

From https://kingandbreakingsilence.org/

The event organizers also invited groups to host local readings of the King speech–a call readily taken up by the Swarthmore community. Professor Lee Smithey (Peace and Conflict Studies) in cooperation with Professor Edwin Mayorga (Educational Studies) coordinated Swarthmore College’s reading. The project included a full gamut of community voices, including students, faculty, administrators, alums, and more. The video recording of the college’s reading can be found below.

Cosponsors at Swarthmore College include: Educational Studies Department; Peace and Conflict Studies Program; Black Studies Program; Intercultural Center; Women’s Resource Center; The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility; Department of Sociology and Anthropology; TriCo Asian American Studies; Department of Religion; History Department; Beit Midrash; The Interfaith Center; Student Government Organization; ENLACE; Intercultural Center Interns; QuestBridge; Swarthmore Queer Union; Petey Greene Program.

Professors Will Gardner and Denise Crossan Teach Class on Environment, Cultural Memory, and Social Change in Japan

“4.11 原発反対デモin高円寺 Anti nuclear power protests in Kouenji” by SandoCap is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This semester, professors Gardner and Crossan have been teaching a new course offering that lies at the intersection of Peace and Conflict Studies, Environmental Science, and Japanese history. From nuclear fallouts to natural disasters and the respective social movements they spawned, the class provides a comprehensive overview of the past and present traumas grappled with in Japanese society as well as avenues towards social change. Students will collaborate virtually with local community partners and peace activists on projects related to the studied topics. For students interested in taking this course, it is listed also for the Spring 2023 semester. The complete course description is quoted below:

“This course will explore the history, contemporary situation, and future possibilities regarding the interlinked realms of the environment, historical trauma, and social movements in Japan. Topics will include the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and the subsequent peace and anti-nuclear movements, the environmental movement in Japan, and the “triple disaster” earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima and Northeastern Japan. We will also discuss how environmental issues intersect with other current social issues such as rural depopulation, an aging population, and gender and economic inequality, and study a variety of contemporary approaches to addressing these issues. Under the guidance of Lang Professor for Social Change Denise Crossan, we will study the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social change and explore applications of this model in Japan. In addition, throughout the semester we will engage with community partners in Japan, particularly in the Hiroshima area, through online exchanges and collaborative projects related to contemporary environmental and peace activism.”

The International Peace Research Association Conference is Free for all Students to Attend this year

The 28th Biennial conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) is being held January 11-15 in a hybrid format (online and in Nairobi, Kenya), and registration has been made completely free for all undergraduate and graduate students this year. If you would like to register, simply fill out the form below and email it to internationalpeaceresearch.sg@gmail.com.

Prof. Sa’ed Atshan named one of 40 Under 40 by the Arab America Foundation

On October 22, Professor Sa’ed Atshan, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College, became an awardee of the Arab America Foundation’s 40 Under 40 initiative, meant to highlight the accomplishments of young Arab Americans across the country. The publication remarks, “each of the awardees has forged pathways in their profession and community. They have done stellar work to promote their Arab heritage and bring positive changes to those around them.”

The Foundation highlights both Atshan’s involvement in Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBT human rights activist organizations as well as his two recently published books, Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Queer Palestine tracks the rise and transnational expansion of the LGBTQ movement in Palestine and argues centrally for the linkage between struggles for Palestinian freedom and the struggle against homophobia.  The Moral Triangle draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin within its three titular communities to explore how German public policy and discourse is shaped by narratives of moral responsibility, the Holocaust, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Germany’s recent welcoming of Middle Eastern refugees. Additionally, Atshan has self-designed two courses focusing on the Middle East at Swarthmore College, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Crisis Resolution in the Middle East, and has taught many more.  Read his full accolade below.

“Sa’ed Atshan is based in Pennsylvania and originally from Palestine. He is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, having previously served as a postdoctoral fellow in international studies at Brown University, and receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Mr. Atshan has published two books: Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Mr. Atshan has been recognized with numerous major grants and fellowships, and he has worked for a wide range of organizations, with a focus on public service. He has volunteered on the boards of major organizations and has also been significantly involved in the leadership of Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBTQ human rights activist groups. Much of his work with Arab-American communities has been devoted to mentoring and supporting youth with education and civic engagement initiatives.”

Two Swarthmore Alumni Celebrated as Part of 2020 Nobel Peace Prize-Winning Food Program

Two Swarthmore alumni shared in the recognition as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020.

Allison Oman Lawi ’91 is director, ad interim, for the Nutrition Division at WFP at headquarters in Rome, while Andrea Stoutland ’83 is special assistant to the director of human resources. The WFP was recognized Oct. 9 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for its efforts to combat hunger and contribute to improving conditions for peace, and for leading in efforts to prevent the weaponization of hunger in war and conflict.

Woman with Somali refugees in a refugee camp in Southern Ethiopia.
Oman Lawli, pictured with Somali refugees in a Kobe refugee camp in Southern Ethiopia, is director, ad interim, for the Nutrition Division at WFP.

The WFP helps to save lives in emergencies, build prosperity, and support a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change. In 2019, the organization provided assistance to close to 100 million people in 88 countries who were victims of acute food insecurity and hunger. According to Executive Director David Beasley, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the WFP is recognition of the work of the agency’s staffers who, under dangerous and unstable conditions, bring food and assistance to hungry children, women and men across the world.

“It would be difficult to express what this means to me, but given my major at Swarthmore was a self-designed Peace Studies (Sociology, Anthropology and Religion) you might get an idea,” says Oman Lawli. Now living in Rome, she had been based at the regional bureau in Nairobi, Kenya, since 2014 where she was a senior regional nutrition advisor including programs on social protection, school feeding, and HIV. 

Stoutland (right), seen here with the Deputy Country Director for Yemen (left) and a Yemeni woman  celebrating her graduation, serves as a assistant to the director of human resources for the WFP’s Nutrition Division.

“I always have believed that how we attempt to distance ourselves from the suffering of others is the measure of our dislocation with ourselves, and service to others is the only way to close that distance,” says Oman Lawi, whose thesis was on the political use of a food as a weapon of war in the Eritrea–Ethiopia conflict. “I have a beautiful job, I love the work that I do, and to have it recognized by the Nobel committee is more than I ever dreamt possible.” 

Stoutland recently moved to Rome in her new role as special assistant to the director of human resources; WFP has over 19,000 employees worldwide. “Before Cairo I spent two years in Juba, South Sudan, heading emergency operations,” she says. “Yemen is one of WFP’s biggest and most complex operations, and the Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the work it does there, together with non-governmental organizations and local authorities, providing food in very challenging contexts.”

According to the WFP, climate shocks and the global pandemic are pushing millions more to the brink of starvation. They continue to work with government organizations and private sector partners who share core values of integrity, humanity and inclusion.

“Humanitarian work is so rewarding because you have this privilege of trying to right the wrongs and support people and do what you can to bring the world back into balance,” says Oman Lawli. “I am humbled by this work — being able to provide food or running nutrition programs for those that have suffered a shock or crisis — it reminds me that all of us are only one major shock away from needing help from someone else and I am genuinely grateful for an opportunity to do my part. It is heartbreaking to know anyone will go to bed hungry, and to know this is a reality for hundreds of millions of people around the world is devastating.  So many things cause hunger; our behavior, our greed, our distancing from one another. I believe that working to end hunger can help bring peace in the world and to end conflict.”

This post originally appeared in Swarthmore News & Events.

Grace Dumdaw ’21 Goes Behind the Scenes with Television Academy Foundation Fellowship

Grace Dumdaw '21

Grace Dumdaw ’21 aspires to one day steal scenes as an actor on television or film. This summer, she got a glimpse behind those scenes through the Television Academy Foundation’s prestigious Summer Fellows Program.

Sponsored by the charitable arm of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences — best known as the organization behind the Emmy Awards — the program provides college students with exposure to the television production process. Although in-person internships were canceled this summer in response to COVID-19, Dumdaw and the other participants spent eight weeks attending online panels with TV executives, connecting virtually with agency representatives, and receiving guidance on interviewing and other professional skills.

As an alum of the program, Dumdaw — a double major in stage, screen, & new media and peace & conflict studies from Mandeville, La. — will also gain access to special networking opportunities as she builds her acting career.

“This has been an incredible fellowship for me,” says Dumdaw, who was a speaker during Swarthmore’s First Community Gathering earlier this month. “It got me in contact with actual professionals in the industry who are doing the work that I’d like to do. By hearing about their journey, I’ve learned a lot about what I want to do postgrad: work at an agency for at least a year because it’s a great place to start off if you want to get involved in entertainment.”

The fellowship also built upon the special major Dumdaw created with a film career in mind: stage, screen, & new media. By combining acting and performance classes from the Theater Department with production and technique courses from Film & Media Studies, Dumdaw says, she is able to receive the training that a large film school would afford while studying at a small liberal arts college.

Her goal is to become an actor, writer, director, and producer, as it’s important in the entertainment industry to be well-rounded, Dumdaw says. Thanks to this summer’s program, she’s well on her way.

“A lot of the knowledge that I gained from the internship, I’ve applied to my own acting career — and I actually got signed to two agencies over the summer,” she says. “It gave me a deeper understanding of what’s really going on.”

This post originally appeared in Swarthmore News & Events.

Tarini Kumar ’12 – Corporate Social Responsibility

Tarini Kumar '12 - Corporate Social ResponsibilityAfter graduation, I left Swarthmore for Bombay, India. Shortly after, I started work at a Delhi-based start-up called Sankhya Partners.

The company is an investment, consulting and strategic advisory platform. They offer early-stage social enterprises business and financial advice, and, in some cases, proprietary growth capital. They also provide established firms a sustainable blueprint for their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Sankhya Partners works with investors, entrepreneurs, companies, educational institutions, government and international organizations and individuals to enable change.

As an Associate and a Sankhya Fellow, I worked with clients on field research, and on putting together databases to expand the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practice. My work was centered around the unorganized labour sector. I worked on identifying and analyzing legislation that would help a social enterprise access funding for programs to up-skill workers. The training programs they run have already increased daily wages for labourers, and they hope to extend their programs for increasing financial inclusion and employability across India.

Recently, I left Sankhya Partners and have started working at Citibank. I’m assigned to the Corporate Affairs team, where I am focused on Citi’s Corporate Citizenship programs – primarily their work with women in rural communities who would not normally have the facility to save money. My responsibilities include communicating with the NGOs and entrepreneurs that Citi partners with to ensure that programs are running well. In addition, I am responsible for putting together their annual Corporate Citizenship Report for India.

In addition to working at Citibank, I am involved with an NGO called Know Your Vote. It’s a non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on raising civic awareness. So far, I’ve been working on our social media and outreach. Currently, we are working on setting up chapters in schools across Bombay, and preparing voter registration drives and other activities in preparation for the 2014 election.

Olivia Ensign ’12 and the Quaker United Nations Office

by Olivia Ensign ’12

 

Olivia Ensign '12 and the Quaker United Nations OfficeAs a senior I decided to take on the challenge of a double credit thesis to fulfill the requirements of my Peace and Conflict Studies honors minor. I chose to write my thesis on the evolution and intersection of the fields of Security Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies. This topic was the culmination of four years of seminars and individual inquiry. Completing this work, eventually titled “Separated at Birth: An Analysis of the Origins and Evolution of Peace and Conflict Studies and Security Studies,” was simultaneously the most draining and rewarding experience of my time at Swarthmore.  My continued interest in the theories and applications of Peace and Conflict Studies led me to apply for my current position as a Program Assistant with the Quaker United Nations Office. This yearlong fellowship has so far been an amazing experience.

 

The Quaker United Nations Office represents the interests of Quakers worldwide at the United Nations. Much of QUNO’s work consists of facilitating informal, off the record dialogue among relevant stakeholders on the role of the UN in peacebuilding and prevention efforts. In addition to helping plan and execute these meetings, my role as a Program Assistant consists of monitoring developments in the work of the Peacebuilding Commission in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I also track developments in UN action in Iran and Iraq. My duties include attending relevant meetings at the U.N. as well as monitoring academic journals and news sources in order to gather information on the issues QUNO engages around. Another area of work I am engaged on is the Palestinian bid for an upgraded status at the UN. This work includes updating the Palestine Resource, an online database intended to be a source of information for activists engaged around the issue of Palestinian statehood, and attending meetings of the Israel-Palestine NGO working group. Finally, I work on QUNO’s engagement around the Post 2015 Development Agenda, the framework that will replace the MDGs upon their expiration.

 

My work with QUNO has reaffirmed my interest in the role of international organizations and international law. As a result I decided to apply for law school with the aim of completing a degree in international human rights law.

 

Adriana Popa ’12 – Blog Post

Adriana Popa '12 - Blog PostAdriana Popa ’12, honors Political Science major and Peace and Conflict studies minor from Pitesti, Romania, is heading to India after graduation, to work under the Davis Projects For Peace Award. The $10,000 Davis grant will support the efforts she and fellow Swattie Riana Shah ’14, from Ahmedabad, India, Sociology/Anthropology and Educational Studies major and co-founder (along with Jwalin Patel) of Independent Thought and Social Action – ITSA, will center around peace education and community building. The project, You(th) for Peace, will promote cross-cultural dialogue and help combat stereotypes, fear, and intolerance, allowing students and their families to envision a common future of peace and cooperation, and will encompass 10 weeks of educational and social action components in India, as well as an international component (through the international team that will join Adriana and Riana in India, the culminating conference, the series of Youtube videos and the curriculum translated into multiple languages that will be launched at the conclusion of activities in India). Adriana and Riana hope the spirit and model of You(th) for Peace will be replicated in various parts of the world. Adriana will draw on her extensive experience in promoting education, youth involvement and peace through her past work with organizations such as the Federation of Young European Greens, Genocide Intervention Network, Peace Child International, and Africa Change International, while Riana will add You(th) for Peace to her already rich experience in advancing independent thinking, social activism, and entrepreneurship to counter the passivity of the Indian education system. Adriana and Riana both have a great deal to thank Swarthmore for in regards to their interest and involvement with education and peace work. Adriana’s Peace and Conflict Studies experience has been one of the most formative ones in her life: “For years I had associated war with a pointed gun and peace with its absence. Through my education, I came to understand that war begins far away from the ammunition warehouses, the same place where peace is born: in people’s hearts and minds. Peace begins with understanding, and education is the best tool for that.” Riana benefited from several generous Swarthmore grants, including the Lang Opportunity Scholar Grant from the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, which have contributed to her perspective on a potential avenue of involvement: “The curriculum in many Indian schools is test-driven and rote-memorization based, creating an environment which doesn’t offer students a chance to intensely participate in critical thinking, which is something that Swarthmore prizes and encourages.”Adriana Popa '12 - Blog Post