After 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.
by Olivia Ensign ’12
As 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, 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.”
My name is Kassandra Sparks and the Peace and Conflict Studies department recently sponsored my externship at Center for Resolutions. Jennifer Magee recommended I let you know about my experience, in case other students and alumni are interested in the opportunities the Peace and Conflict Studies department is presenting students here. Below, I have written up a small blurb outlining my experience thus far. If you have any more questions or would like any more information, please let me know! I have also attached a picture of myself with Bridget Caroll, the woman who spoke to my Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class, in her office at the Center.
I became involved with Center for Resolutions in November thanks to taking Jennifer Magee’s Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies class. Jennifer invited Bridget Carroll from Center for Resolutions to speak to our class about the work the Center does in restorative justice, mediation, and dispute settlement. So inspired by the work she was doing, I contacted her and have been volunteering there since. The Center is an engaging, stimulating, fast-paced environment to work in, and as opened my eyes to the realities of non-profit organizations. Since there are only three paid staff members, I have the opportunity to (like them) take on multiple hats and truly make a difference in my community. A few of the responsibilities I have had are the following:
- searching for and writing grants
- compiling and analyzing data about the Center
- contacting police liaisons
- designing a website
- assisting the Center’s push to be more active in social media
- and so many more
The skills I have learned from the short months I have been interning at the Center have been incredible, and I can only imagine how much more I will learn over the following years at Swarthmore. I feel so much more prepared both to apply for summer internships this summer as well as to apply these skills in my internship.
I am extremely grateful for both the Peace and Conflict Studies program and the Lang Center for exposing my to this opportunity, sponsoring my externship, and funding my transportation.
Thank you again,