Tag Archives: students & alumni

Peace and Conflict Studies Student Paris Shan ’23 Shares Internship Experience With Advocates For Human Rights

Paris Shan ’23 is a Peace and Conflict Studies minor student at Swarthmore College. This summer, she was actively engaged with the Advocates for Human Rights in an internship. She describes her internship experience with ties to interviews, research, data analysis, and importantly the education she received at Swarthmore and in Peace & Conflict Studies.

Paris Shan ’23 Peace & Conflict Studies Minor

“This summer, I was able to engage in meaningful work as an International Justice and Women’s Human Rights intern with the Advocates for Human Rights. Through my role, I worked with prosecutors to collect evidence of gender-based war crimes in Ukraine to submit to the International Criminal Court. This work is extremely important as it can be used to hold perpetrators of violence accountable and allows victims to share their stories. The most impactful moment of this internship for me was an interview with a Ukrainian father who had never had the opportunity to share his pain and struggle with anyone before. He spoke about the burden he felt to protect his family, the fear of the unknown, and his gratitude for the work of the legal professionals at the Advocates for Human Rights. His interview brought him to tears as he came to confront his experience and emotions for the first time. It is easy to feel like your work as a human rights defender is so small, but experiences like this remind me that change-making can exist at various levels.”

“With the Advocates, I also worked with a team of students to research international human rights instruments and country laws on violence against women. The work I did helped bring attention to gender-based violence around the world and aid prosecutors representing victims of violence in court. I was able to build and update the www.stopvaw.org database for other organizations and victims to use as a resource. On the website, I included research and writing reports on sex trafficking and domestic violence, weekly updates on women’s rights around the world, a data tracker on the far-right movement, and updated information on gender-based violence and resources for victims. My research showed me the importance of documentation in the foundation of legal work. As a pre-law scholar, these skills are extremely valuable to my education and future goals.”

“My work this summer helped me further develop my data analysis, professional writing, and knowledge learned through my coursework as a political science and peace & conflict studies student at Swarthmore. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to apply many of the concepts that I have learned through my education at Swarthmore into real-world experiences and projects. I am grateful to the Lang Center for Social and Civic Responsibility for the Social Summer Impact Scholarship that allowed me to pursue this summer opportunity. My growth this summer is a huge step towards my goal of attending law school and becoming an international human rights lawyer.”

LIVE panel with Ruth McDonough ’08, Sultana Khaya, and co. engaged in unarmed civilian protection and nonviolent struggle in Western Sahara

Ruth McDonough ’08 (Religion; Peace and Conflict Studies; Linguistics) is currently engaged in unarmed civilian protection in the home of the Khaya sisters, Saharawi nonviolent activists calling for an independent Western Sahara, who have been under de facto house arrest for more than 500 days.. Learn more.

On Wednesday April 20, we are hosting a hybrid in-person/online event to:

1.) learn more about Western Saraha
2.) join a LIVE panel from the Khaya sisters’ home.

Where: Join online (links below) or come to Kohlberg Hall Room 230

10:30 AM EDT – Primer on Western Sahara by Professor Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, Coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies, and co-author of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/wsahara

11:00 AM EDT – Join the live online panel with Ruth McDonough ’08 and the rest of the team.
Online: Register at https://bit.ly/3jIDzi4

Online participation by the public is welcomed.


Ruth McDonough

Ruth is a current member of the Unarmed Civilian Accompaniment based at the Khaya family home in Boujdour, Western Sahara. Ruth has been an Arabic teacher and strong proponent of cross-cultural understanding and peacebuilding and is the site Director of Middlebury College’s Jiran: Arabic Community Action Summer 2021 to present. Previously, she was head of the World Languages and Cultures Department at The American School in London–London, UK; Arabic Teacher at The American School in London, UK; Field Instructor at Where There Be Dragons, Amman, Jordan; Arabic Teacher at Arabic Summer Academy–Boston, MA, USA; Curriculum Consultant at One World Now, Seattle, Washington and Portland State University–Portland, OR, USA and Arabic Teacher at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. Ruth served as co-founder/facilitator of Anti-Racism Enquiry Group at The American School in London, co-chair of the Upper School Diversity Committee and co-advisor to SHADES at Buckingham Browne & Nichols School–Cambridge, MA, USA. She is skilled at international and outdoor program management as Ecology Facilitator and Wilderness Trail Co-Leader at The American School in London, UK and an emergency wilderness responder. Ruth lived and traveled in many Arab countries and is proficient at several languages including English, Arabic, French and American Sign Language. She earned a BA in Religion at Swarthmore College with minors in Linguistics and Peace & Conflict Studies and a Certificate in Humanistic Integrative Counseling from CPPD Counseling School.

Sponsored by the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the Department of Religion at Swarthmore College
Contact: Lee Smithey, lsmithe1@swarthmore.edu

30th Anniversary Event: Preparing for Peace, Building Social Justice

Join us online on Tuesday February 22 at 4:15 pm EST to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Peace & Conflict Studies program at Swarthmore College! The virtual event will reflect on the past three decades of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore and the ways that program alumni have integrated peace and conflict studies to their careers.

This virtual event is free and open to the public. Please register to attend at https://bit.ly/330ZWuw

Allison Oman Lawli, '91
Deputy Divisional for Nutritional Operations, Analysis, and Integration, World Food Programme

Maurice Weeks, '08
Co-Executive Director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE) Coordinator

Jasmine Rashid, '18
Director of Impact at the Candide Group

Jerry Frost
Howard M. and Charles F. Jenkins Professor Emeritus of Quaker History and Research and Former Peace & Conflict Studies Program Coordinator

Lee Smithey
Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies and Sociology and Peace & Conflict Studies Program Coordinator

Peace Major Martin Tomlinson Reflects on the Climate Crisis in Student-lEd Workshop Series

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of the Swarthmore College Bulletin.

Growing up in rural Kansas, Martin Tomlinson ’23 experienced the effects of the climate crisis firsthand.

“I saw my neighbors’ crops failing and the water in the creek behind my house beginning to dry out,” says Tomlinson, a double major in Peace & Conflict Studies and Religion with a minor in Environmental Studies. “As my town became more and more abandoned, I began to realize that this was the death of a way of life and of a community.”

Such evidence of the existential threat posed by the climate crisis continues: this summer alone, the United States experienced heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods that claimed hundreds of lives. A recent report authored by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that global climate change is accelerating due to insufficient reduction of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Described by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres as a “code red for humanity,” the report suggests that limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a tipping point for increased risk of irreversible climate disaster, is no longer possible and that further warming can only be avoided by rapid and large-scale reductions of all greenhouse gases.

Faced with the enormity of the crisis, many students, including Tomlinson, feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the seeming inevitability that things will only get worse.

Social isolation caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also done little to alleviate the fear that the time for decisive, collective action has passed.

In this reality, it is critical to have a space for discussing the climate crisis and formulating action at both the individual and community level. At Swarthmore, a student-led workshop series, Climate Essentials, aims to fill this role by encouraging participants to “critically engage with the climate crisis in its many dimensions.”

The series of lectures and virtual meetings works to draw participants into community and build on an awareness that actions can be taken to combat climate anxiety.

Climate Essentials began in 2020 as a five-session pilot program under the direction of Atticus Maloney ’22 and Declan Murphy ’21, students in the President’s Sustainability Research Fellowship (PSRF) who developed a syllabus with guest speakers and recommended readings related to the climate crisis.

“Many of us at Swarthmore are grappling with the same concerns and questions about the climate crisis,” says Murphy. “We wanted to create opportunities for community members to talk about these things, hear other thoughts, and then work to translate conversations into action.”

This year, Tomlinson and fellow PSRF participant Maya Tipton ’23 took the reins of the now-virtual Climate Essentials course with help from Murphy and Terrence Xiao ’20, a sustainability and engaged scholarship fellow in the Office of Sustainability.

Although the move to Zoom initially presented challenges, the virtual format allowed for double the number of participants of the pilot program; this year’s series had more than 100 registrants, consisting of students, staff, faculty, community members, and alumni.

“The virtual environment actually helped create a strong sense of community because it made the course accessible to people who normally wouldn’t be able to join,” says Tomlinson. “We had alumni from all over the country calling in and students in different parts of the world participating as well.”

Over six sessions, the workshop covered topics such as “Indigenous Environmental Justice,” “Climate Science and Policy,” and “Planning for the Future,” and featured such speakers as Indigenous activist Enei Begaye Peter of the Diné and Tohono O’odham nations. The broad range of topics was designed to help participants understand the all-encompassing nature of the climate crisis and intersectionality within.

A spring course is planned. “It’s important to continually emphasize the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and racial justice,” says Drake, one of the project’s mentors. “If you care about social justice issues, you also need to care about the climate crisis because they are one and the same in many ways.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to build a critical mass of community members who understand the crisis and its urgency,” Drake adds. “Hopefully, that awareness will influence the way they approach their lives and there will be many impacts, however small, that result.”

Translating knowledge into action was the focus of the final session, which provided participants with an opportunity to reflect on their own impacts. For example, climate activist Fran Putnam ’69 planned to educate herself further on environmental issues faced by Indigenous people, while others planned to get involved with local organizations such as Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living.

Holding Climate Essentials during this unique time led several of its organizers to reflect on the similarities between COVID-19 and the climate emergency, and what can be achieved through collective responsibility.

“I believe both crises result in part from a widely held belief that we exploit the planet, animals, and others without significant consequences,” says Tipton. “Climate change and COVID show us that we are not separate from our environment and other people — in fact, we are all deeply interconnected.”

“Gone are the days where we imagine we cannot sacrifice some aspect of our daily lives for the good of the whole,” adds Maloney. “Hopefully, we can channel this energy to make similar sacrifices for the survival of the human species in the face of climate catastrophe.”

Walking the Walk on Climate Change

Tim Hirschel-Burns ’17 (@TimH_B on Twitter; now at Yale Law School) anticipates global climate summit in Glasgow in a piece published on the Fellow Travelers blog:

This November, nations will come together for the international climate summit in Glasgow. The summit is the most significant since the 2015 conference that produced the Paris Agreement, and the recent wave of climate disasters only underlines the extreme urgency of global action to fight climate change. The US, now back in the Paris Agreement after the Trump Administration withdrew, aims to play a leading role in the negotiations. But as the US attempts to return to the head of the table, one key question will be in other countries’ minds: why should we believe what the US says?

26 July 2021 on Fellow Travelers.

Read more at Fellow Travelers

IfNotNow, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Change-Makers

We are thrilled to share this article reprinted from the Swarthmore Bulletin [Spring 2020 / Issue III / Volume CXVII] that features Peace and Conflict Studies Major, Jasmine Rashid ’18.


Change Makers

By Elizabeth Redden ’05

Morgan Simon ’04 (left), co-founder of the registered investment adviser the Candide Group — where Jasmine Rashid ’18 is also part of the team — traces her interest in impact investing to her experiences with strategic activism at the College. “It was really because Swarthmore had faith in young people to not only think about how to make a difference but get real experience,” Simon says. Photo by Jennifer Leahy.

Through impact investing, Swarthmoreans put their money where their values are

Morgan Simon ’04 wants you to know one thing about money: Investing it wisely can help bring about social change. 

For almost 20 years, she’s done just that as a pioneer in impact investing, or the practice of investing not only for financial returns, but for social or environmental returns, as well. As a founding partner of the Bay Area-based Candide Group, a registered investment adviser, Simon and her team provide custom advice to families, foundations, athletes, and actors “who want their money working for justice,” she says.

It’s an ambitious endeavor that traces back to Simon’s Swarthmore days, when her shareholder activism led several Fortune 500 companies to amend their nondiscrimination policies. But Simon’s not alone in this burgeoning field, where monetary value meets Quaker values. Through impact investing, numerous Swarthmoreans are changing the world, one dollar at a time.

Purpose at the Center

Amit Bouri ’99 knew from a very young age that he wanted to do something that helped improve the lives of others. Raised by a single mother who put herself through school to bring the family to a basic level of middle-class stability, Bouri was keenly aware that most kids from similar backgrounds didn’t have access to the same kinds of educational opportunities that he had. 

“I wanted to have purpose at the center of my career,” says Bouri, who holds an MBA from Northwestern and a master in public administration from Harvard. “But at the time I was in school, I did not have a very clear view of what that purpose would be.”

After working for a consulting firm and helping to author a report about investing for social and environmental impact, Bouri co-founded the nonprofit Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), “the global champion for impact investing,” he says. “We’re trying to develop a market that steers massive amounts of investment capital to address the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems.”

And from Bouri’s experience, interest in impact investing is booming — in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.

“We see more and more investors who want to put their money to work to have a positive impact on the world,” he says. “This ranges from big institutional investors, pension funds, and university endowments, all the way down to individuals who want their money to be invested in the world that they want to live in.”

A Meaningful Difference

Tralance Addy ’69 has seen a similar trend. The Ghana native is in the process of launching Yaro Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm that will invest in African companies in fields like health care services, clean technology, renewable energy, and food and agriculture.

“One of the most effective ways of addressing the needs of the developing world, especially poverty, is by much stronger engagement with private enterprise and entrepreneurship,” says Addy, who holds an engineering Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. For his present venture, he’s drawing from his past experience as executive director of Stanford University’s Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies and as CEO of WaterHealth International. 

Addy is passionate about Yaro’s potential for using business solutions to solve social problems.

“Our thesis is, there should be no conflict between making a return and having an impact,” he says, explaining that once a problem is solved in a way that is profitable, the solution can be sustained even after project leaders or philanthropists leave the scene.

“For instance,” he says, “with clean water, what we had to do was say we have to find a way to provide clean water that is affordable for people who earn $2 a day. Once you can make that a sustainable business, you have solved the problem.” 

Sampriti Ganguli ’95, CEO of Arabella Advisors, says philanthropists are increasingly looking to move beyond grant-making to invest in socially conscious businesses.

“It’s part of a broader trend in philanthropy,” says Ganguli, whose company advises individuals, corporations, and foundations on philanthropic giving and impact investing. “There’s a transition into the next generation of donors who want to be much more actively involved, and they want to think more creatively about their giving strategy.”

Ganguli — who was born in India, grew up in the Philippines, and speaks five languages — holds an M.A. in international affairs from Johns Hopkins and an MBA from Wharton. Before joining Arabella Advisors, she had roles in finance and consulting. But something was missing.

“The greatest value — and, in some ways, the greatest burden — of being a Swarthmore graduate is you always wrestle with that existential question of ‘How am I making a difference in this world?’” Ganguli says. “I always felt dissatisfied with where I was until I could answer that question: ‘Do I feel like the work that I’m doing is making a meaningful difference in the world?’ I now feel myself finally at peace from a career perspective.”

Making a Real Impact

Those existential questions are also at the center of  the Candide Group, where “we’re able to invest in things like solar energy for low-income households in Louisiana, or direct-trade cacao that can give farmers three times the income,” says Simon, who in 2017 released Real Impact: The New Economics of Social Change. Other investments made through Candide assisted a media production company in telling positive stories about people of color, or helped Black hairstylists increase their income by selling products directly to customers. 

More than half of the companies and funds in Candide’s portfolio are led by women or people of color. That fact makes Simon particularly proud. 

“Less than 2% of global assets are managed by firms owned by women or people of color,” she says. “Now, I’m managing a team that’s majority women of color, managing an investment portfolio that’s majority women and/or people-of-color led, and being able to exercise my values while deploying over $30 million a year.”

Among her teammates is Jasmine Rashid ’18, whose upbringing in a highly class-stratified community on Long Island sparked her interest in exploring economic inequality. Working with Simon, Rashid helped develop Candide’s Real Money Moves campaign to encourage divestment from private prisons. She also helped launch the $40 million Olamina Fund, focused on lending to “historically disinvested communities in rural America, the deep South, and Native country.” 

Rashid named the fund after the protagonist of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, a novel she fell in love as a senior at Swarthmore. 

“I actually started out Swarthmore as an economics major,” she says. “But I learned fairly quickly it was hard for me to stay focused just working with equations.” Instead, she wanted to talk about capital in the context of power, history, and society. “A special major in peace & conflict studies allowed a more nuanced exploration of that for me,” she adds, “and prepared me to begin drawing clear connections between money and justice — or lack thereof — in any social issue I encountered.”

For Simon, a similar connection was made in 2002, during her sophomore year in college. Troubled by the lack of protections offered to LGBTQ employees at Lockheed Martin, which was part of Swarthmore’s investment portfolio, Simon proposed that the College file a shareholder resolution with the aerospace and defense company. The resolution was hugely successful: Lockheed added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, and — through persuasion from Simon and other activists ­— three other large companies in the College’s portfolio made similar changes, as well.

“It was really because Swarthmore had faith in young people to not only think about how to make a difference but get real experience,” she says. “I was the first student since the apartheid era to have filed a shareholder resolution, and that led to students across the country reaching out and saying, ‘This is amazing. How can we do that?’” 

The actions motivated Simon to found the Responsible Endowments Coalition, which at its height was on more than 100 U.S. college campuses influencing more than $150 billion. They also created a career path for Simon, “even if I wouldn’t have known it at the time,” she says. 

“My objective was always strategic activism,” she adds, “and I learned that impact investing was an incredible way to do that.”  

Two Swatties Earn National Award for Work in Peace & Conflict Studies

— by Ryan Dougherty via Swarthmore News and Events, January 8th 2021

Vanessa Meng ’20 (left) and Lucy Jones ’20 were honored at Peace and Justice Studies Association’s annual meeting, held remotely in November.

For the first time in its history, the Peace and Justice Studies Association’s (PJSA) award for best paper went to two students this year — and they’re both Swarthmoreans.

The selection committee honored both Lucy Jones ’20, who explored the experiences of Central American migrant women on the U.S.-Mexico border for her thesis, and Vanessa Meng ’20, who examined the debates surrounding colonialism in contemporary Chinese-African relations.

The students, who graduated in May with high honors, were honored at PJSA’s annual meeting, held virtually in November.

For Jones, it was an opportunity to properly celebrate her thesis, “Resistance, Resilience, and Survival: Central American Refugee Women Across the U.S.-Mexico Border,” which she completed while in quarantine during the pandemic.

“It was a huge honor, and very exciting to have my work recognized and to be able to talk about it with peace scholars from around the country,” says Jones, who majored in peace & conflict studies at Swarthmore and is now a legal assistant at an immigration law firm in Philadelphia.

For Meng, it was particularly rewarding to be recognized for her thesis, “The Middle Kingdom Dreams: Understanding and Reframing China-African Relations,” at what she considered a time of heightened hostility from the Western media toward her native China.

“I hoped to show that there is an opportunity for peace between the U.S. and China, because the values and ideas that I was taught at Swarthmore, specifically the American revolutionary dream from activists in the United States, are in fact aligned with the dream of the country I grew up in,” says Meng, who majored in peace & conflict studies and has been writing a children’s book on environmental science. 

Both students expressed gratitude for the faculty and students of the Peace & Conflict Studies Program, citing its depth of collaboration and support. They follow PJSA thesis award winners from Swarthmore in 2013 and 2014.

“Research and writing are important in our program, so we are understandably thrilled when colleagues in our field recognize that our students are doing important and often cutting-edge work,” says Lee Smithey, professor and program coordinator. “Lucy and Vanessa exemplify student scholarship in peace & conflict studies.”

Assistant Professor of Peace & Conflict Studies Sa’ed Atshan ’06 advised both students on their thesis projects, and offered comments on their behalf at the awards ceremony.

“Lucy arrived in my office in August 2016 from Birmingham, Ala., where she was born and raised,” Atshan recalls. “In our very first meeting, she expressed palpable enthusiasm for peace & conflict studies, reflecting on her Irish heritage, and proved to be a brilliant student.”

Atshan says Meng joined the College community “with a very clear consciousness regarding peace and environmental justice, speaking eloquently about climate challenges she witnessed in her hometown of Beijing.”

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.”

“I believe that working to end hunger can help bring peace in the world and to end conflict.”

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.