Four grants were recently awarded by the InterExchange Foundation to recipients of the Christianson Grant and Working Abroad Grant.
Three of the four recipients have already departed on their respective journeys abroad where they will learn and work at innovative non-profit organizations in developing countries. The Foundation distributes grants of up to $10,000 throughout the year and has awarded 65 grants since it began in 2007.
As a further demonstration of InterExchange's mission to promote intercultural exchange and learning within the global community, the Foundation funds deserving young people from the U.S. who have committed to a long-term, international volunteer or work project.
All recipients are recent university graduates who have postponed working or further academic study to instead focus on learning about international social issues and be immersed in a new culture – something few U.S. citizens endeavor to do.
Javed K., a graduate of Columbia University, will be going to northern India in early 2012. He will teach in rural education camps for children who normally drop out of school at an early age. Javed is also going to India to learn more about his mother's country.
"By spending a year integrated in a rural community in northern India, working at a rural school, I believe I will develop a far richer understanding for an aspect of my identity that I have not fully explored until now," says Javed.
Carlyn J. is also currently volunteering in India. Based in Udaipur, she will engage in an exchange of cultural knowledge while working in a community to help implement a sustainable energy program in the rural villages around Udaipur. A graduate of Allegheny College, Carlyn is working for the Foundation for Ecological Security.
Two recipients of the Christianson Grant are also visiting Uganda to work in separate programs.
Erin S., a graduate of the University of Denver, is working for Partners for Access as an assistant manager in Kampala, Uganda. She will train community nurses, research and write grants and be in charge of the operational functions of the clinic.
Beth M., also in Uganda, is volunteering to help the local communities in Kasokwa learn how to coexist peacefully with the wildlife in the area, and with the primate population in particular. The Cornell University graduate is working with the Kasokwa Forest Project.
"Although the environmental issues faced by East Africans are unique," says Martin, "I was drawn to working with an organization that addresses human-wildlife conflict because it is a topic that embraces one of the core issues of conservation – the conflict between people's interests."