The InterExchange Foundation recently awarded over $20,000 in Christianson Fellowships to four young women completing projects in the Caribbean, Central America, and Africa. Read on to learn more about their service.
Keara C. – Education & Empowering Girls in the Dominican Republic
Senior Princeton in Latin America Fellow Keara will spend 10 months working with the Mariposa DR Foundation in Cabarete. Mariposa’s mission is to educate and empower girls in order to create sustainable solutions to end poverty.
Keara will serve as an instructor at the Mariposa Center for Girls, which provides academic enrichment, health and wellness, experiential learning and international awareness lessons to over 150 girls between ages eight and 19.
“Working with the Mariposa DR Foundation will give me the chance to address the two areas [quality education and girls’ empowerment] of social justice I am passionate about simultaneously and will allow me to experience firsthand the impact of focusing on the issues together.”
In addition to her work at the Center for Girls, Keara will also collaborate with Mariposa staff on curriculum, teach Spanish literacy and English language classes, and lead workshops on self-sufficiency to older girls.
If that weren’t enough, Keara is also contributing to two community projects in Cabarete and Batey Libertad, a marginalized community of primarily Haitian migrants and Haitian-Dominican families: a Writing Workshop for Batey Libertad High School students and Chicas Brillantes, a girls’ self-empowerment program for youth ages 14-17.
Taye H. – Social Justice for Deaf Communities in Guatemala
Though not hearing impaired, Taye has devoted her studies and career to social justice for Deaf communities. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education and a master’s in social work from Gallaudet University (the world’s only university designed to be barrier-free for deaf and hard of hearing students), Taye served as a social worker at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for three years.
Taking her passion for Deaf rights and cross-cultural understanding, Taye is embarking on a 10-month service project with the LAVOSI School for the Deaf in Jocotenango, Guatemala.
LAVOSI, which stands for Las Voces del Silencio (The Voices of the Silent), provides education for deaf students (who have few educational and work opportunities in Guatemala) in Guatemalan Sign Language and Spanish, teaches sign language to families, and works to educate the community about the rights and needs of deaf individuals.
“As someone who is multilingual — speaking English, Spanish, and using American Sign Language — I am uniquely situated to communicate across and advocate within the Deaf, Hispanic, and educational communities. It is a fortunate space to occupy, but as someone who is neither Deaf nor Hispanic, I must always be aware of my privilege.”
Taye will ensure LAVOSI’s efforts with International Deaf Partnerships to raise funds and awareness for LAVOSI continue. LAVOSI doesn’t receive any funding or support from the Guatemalan Ministry of Education.
Michale G. – Access to Clean Water in Uganda
Michale is volunteering in Uganda with SPOUTS of Water, a non-profit organization focused on improving access to clean water. As marketing manager, Michale will create materials to inform communities about the organization and their water filters. She’ll also network with other organizations to help expand SPOUTS’ reach.
“This will be an incredible opportunity to try and understand the lives of Ugandans and how the product could be helpful to them.”
Michale earned a bachelor’s degree in social engineering and applied science from the University of Pennsylvania. She’ll spend 10 months in Uganda.
Neha S. – HIV Treatment for Adolescents in South Africa
Former intern with USAID Global Health Fellows II, Neha will apply her degree in public health to support the world’s largest study of HIV-positive adolescents. The Youth Pulse research project is a collaborative effort among the South African national Departments of Health, Social Development and Basic Education, UNICEF, Paediatric AIDS Treatment for Africa (PATA), and the Universities of Cape Town and Oxford.
The project aims to improve adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART) and increase utilization of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Neha will serve as a Fieldwork Coordinator, supporting community outreach, field research, and data management.
“This cultural exchange will surely increase my humility, as well as my motivation to tackle our world’s complex barriers to global health equity.”
Congratulations to these July 2016 Christianson Fellowship Cycle winners! All four will blog about their projects on the InterExchange Foundation website, so stay tuned for updates.
The Christianson Fellowship is awarded to individuals who have independently arranged a service project abroad for at least six months. Selected grantees receive up to $10,000 in funding. There are three grant cycles per year: March, July, and October.