ECSF 2008: Updates from the Field
From left: Hannah “Boots” Janoowalla ’10, Benjamin Bechtolsheim '10, Angela Tse ’09, Aaron Voldman ’09, Avram Mlotek ’09, and Catherine McConnell ’10
June 13, 2008
Four of our six 2008 Ethics Center Student Fellows have arrived at their internship sites around the world. Here’s what they’re up to:
Benjamin Bechtolsheim ’10 is working for Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU), an organization that provides health services and education to internally displaced persons (IDPs) across Uganda. Benjamin began his internship in Kampala, Uganda, where he ventured into a slum with a team of volunteers to mobilize the people to take advantage of RHU’s services, which include checkups and HIV tests. Benjamin writes of his experience working at such a testing clinic: “I felt a sinking feeling as I saw the red line emerge. I do not know whose blood it was, but it seemed like an extremely intimate and yet anonymous experience to witness this HIV test return its positive result.” RHU currently has Benjamin working in Gulu, northern Uganda, where he has had the opportunity to volunteer with the distribution of rations with the UN World Food Program. “Witnessing an entire village assembling to be given food was the most visceral experience of poverty I can remember. When the occasional bag would break while being unloaded, people would run over to catch the loose grain as it fell to the ground.”
Hannah Janoowalla ’10, also known as Boots, is working for Population Services International (PSI) on AIDS prevention initiatives with drug users and sex workers in Mumbai, India. She began in the brothels, where she met an HIV-positive girl who became a prostitute at age 12. “I thought the brothels would seem familiar after watching several movies about them,” writes Hannah, “but you can’t smell and feel the air in a movie. You can’t see the rats and rabid dogs.” Hannah’s current focus at PSI lies in the IDU (Injecting Drug Users) program. “I met a room full of men, HIV positive. A lot of them had abscesses and the one who gave me a tour had his arm amputated at the elbow.” Hannah’s projects include the coordination of a training session for NGO project managers in effective behavior-change communication. Hannah plans also to remain in the field and work with the drug users directly. Most recently, Hannah reported that the monsoons have arrived. “I love the rain and everything is so alive,” she writes. “I love this country so much.”
Meanwhile, Avram Mlotek ’09 is working with Hope Community Services in Mekelle, Ethiopia. “Mekelle is beautiful,” he writes. “The city is in a valley with mountains all around it. Now they’re bare and dry, but come rainy season, everything turns green.” Avram is interning at an orphanage where he teaches English and music, his passion from an early age. He also teaches English in a local school to 70 seventh- and eighth-graders, all at the same time, and then to the residents of a girls’ home for the blind. When his work in Ethiopia comes to a close on June 18, Avram will travel to Israel to run a music program at Yemin Orde Children’s Village, home to 500 children age 6-18 from difficult family circumstances. His experiences in Mekelle will inform his work at Yemin Orde; over 55% of Yemin Orde’s children are Ethiopian.
And finally, Angela Tse ’09 is busy negotiating both the legal system and the heavy air pollution in Beijing. A veteran traveler to China (she studied abroad and volunteered with migrant workers in 2005), Angela describes the familiar scents that hit her on arrival: “Brown dust, car smoke pollution, and that vague smell of xiao-chi. It felt good, like I had just returned to my home away from home.” Angela is interning with International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), an organization that works to improve criminal justice systems around the world. She’s working on a research project in which she is conducting interviews with judges, prosecutors, defenders, and defendants about the state of the juvenile justice system and the effectiveness of IBJ’s “Know Your Rights” campaign. Angela’s main interest is in the state of Beijing’s migrant workers, and she plans to volunteer at a migrant worker school. Angela landed in China just days after the Wenchuan earthquake. She worked on an English translation for proposals for legal aid to the earthquake victims. “The translation was strange in that there were parts that stated things like, ‘Corpses should be processed such that the most effort possible is exerted to attain identity.’ It just pulls at your gut, knowing that this is what people are dealing with in the world.”
Our final two ECSFs – Catherine McConnell ’10, interning at Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg, South Africa; and Aaron Voldman ’09, interning with the Asian Study Center for Political and Conflict Transformation in Nepal – take off for their journeys just days from now. We wish them safe travels and look forward to posting further updates from all six of our student fellows.