Four Monterey Institute students on three continents worked to give a voice to the voiceless this summer through the 2010 Fellowship for Peace program linking promising graduate students to social change projects in the developing world. Their fellowships were organized and supported by the Advocacy Project, a Washington D.C. based non-profit with the mission of helping marginalized communities tell their story, claim their rights and produce social change. All four students wrote about their experiences on a personal blog where they also contributed numerous photos and videos. (Each student’s blog is linked from their name below.)
Christine Marie Carlson (MPA ’11) worked with the Gulu Disabled Persons Union in Uganda. The fellowship fit perfectly with her overall academic goal “to understand the relationship between social service delivery systems and government in developing countries.” For Christine, the opportunity to conduct research with the Disabled Persons Union in Gulu, Uganda was an amazing opportunity; she calls GDPU “a golden case study.” Christine intends to go back to Africa after completing her studies at MIIS.
Josanna Lewin (MPA ’11) was also in Africa, working with Vital Voices Business Women’s Network hub and the Eagle Women’s Empowerment Club in Accra, Ghana. She focused on providing a forum for peer learning, information exchange and other important aspects of building a network for women in business. “This has been a summer of learning, sharing and laughing with some incredible women,” says Josanna. While she recognizes the obstacles her organization faces, she is confident of its ability to create real change for women in Ghana.
Kate Bollinger (IPS ’11) has focused on South Asia and international development in her studies and spent her summer working with the Women’s Reproductive Rights program in Nepal. Kate worked on projects related to the common problem of uterine prolapse among women in Nepal, where they are expected to literally carry the load of their families, both physically and mentally. While the extremely painful uterine prolapse mainly affects older women in other countries, the strain of physical labor and childbearing combined with the tradition of women eating last in Nepal leads to an unusually high rate of this condition. Another project Kate worked on was offering Nepalese women a chance to express themselves through art by painting patches for larger quilts that will be used to advocate for human rights.
Karin Orr (IPS ’11) spent her summer in Peru, working with the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team restoring the identity of the “disappeared” in Peru and helping families of victims in their search for justice. Karin experienced firsthand the complexity a nation in recovery after conflict that she had been studying at MIIS where she has specialized in conflict resolution. At least 15,000 people “disappeared” in Peru during its 20-year civil conflict between 1980 and 2000. Karin met with family members seeking justice and closure and worked with a team of forensic anthropologists trying to identify the remains of people who were buried in known sites without identification.