Ethics Center Student Fellows Return from the Field

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September 1, 2007


The Ethics Center Student Fellows have returned from their summer internships around the world! Here are a few of their impressions and reflections.

Ramon De Jesus '08 worked for the Victory Junction camp in North Carolina, where he served as a counselor for children with chronic illnesses and conducted research to find out why there are so few camp counselors of color. He learned that this is a widespread problem, partially because of different conceptions of camping in different cultures. He writes, "The work I'm doing here is the most fulfilling and rewarding work that I have ever done. My [down times] are nothing compared to what some of these kids are facing."

In Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Rachel Kleinbaum '08 interned with UTQ, a labor union coalition. She spent her days interviewing the heads of unions from the informal sector, particularly street vendors. From these interviews, she observed, "What street vendors want is to be left alone by the police who exploit their less-than-legal livelihoods." She helped organize a conference to raise money for UTQ and to teach the foreign population in Quetzaltenango about the labor movement in Guatemala.

Daniel Koosed '08, who did his internship with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, helped organize a joint symposium between the Ethics Center and the Tribunal on the legacy of international courts in Africa. His visit to Rwanda's Murambi death camp with fellow ICTR interns and staff caused him to "return to Arusha with less, not more, understanding of how such an unimaginable tragedy could have occurred."

Margot Moinester '09 in Kigali, Rwanda, interned with WE-ACTx, where she worked on an income generation project in which she developed a line of bags made from African fabrics to export to the United States. Margot compiled the stories of 25 HIV-positive women. She came to understand that "genocidal rape is overwhelmingly the mode of transmission." Not only are these women traumatized by rape, through which they contract the deadly HIV/AIDS virus, but they are further victimized by societal stigma.

In Pune, India, Neena Pathak '08 wrote fundraising letters and helped to document the progress of newly-converted organic farms for the Maharashtra Organic Farming Federation (MOFF), an organization that promotes alternatives to current government and transnational corporation policies that have been connected to a rash of farmer suicides. Neena was able to participate in farmers' rallies and group meetings with the women of developing farming villages. She noted the challenges of rural life for communities affected by the changes in farming practices because of globalization. She wrote, "The difficulties of having entire livelihoods based on irregular weather patterns and poor agricultural practices sometimes get overlooked."

Finally, out in the rainforest of Kakamega, Kenya, Jamie Pottern '09 interned with the Kakamega Environmental Education Program (KEEP). She created and implemented a community survey to assess the village's needs, and became involved with environmental education at local schools. In addition, Jamie practiced her Kiswahili with her host family.

The Fellows now begin the fall course that will help them unravel and more fully reflect upon their experiences. Welcome home, ECSFs!