LOS Class of 2014
Morgan L. Bartz of Bethel, CT, USA. My project would create a model zero waste program uniquely designed for elementary schools in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The zero waste design principle emulates processes of nature, where there is no such thing as waste. A classroom program embodying this design principle would take significant steps to reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost as many materials as possible. The classroom would also consider phasing out particular materials if they were unsustainable. Currently, no local school has adopted a zero waste program or initiative, but exemplars from California, Colorado, Illinois, and elsewhere provide a useful framework. My program would be launched in two local fourth-grade classrooms: one in a Chester elementary school and one in a Swarthmore elementary school in order to exemplify the program's ability to work in both an urban and suburban setting in Delaware County. While primary attention would be focused on the two classrooms in order to inform my classroom design, school-wide zero waste events would provide a more accurate portrait of the school's knowledge level. Such outreach events would exemplify the zero waste paradigm while surveying the knowledge-level of attendees regarding zero waste concepts. My program would thus function on both a classroom and school-wide level, while also potentially gaining support for zero waste on a countywide level.
Aarti Rao of Chatsworth, CA , USA. If chosen as a Lang Scholar, I will use the given resources to work with my community partner, The Bhoruka Charitable Trust (BCT), to expand and further develop the existing JnanaJyothi program. Located in Kalghatgi, an impoverished region in the Dharwad district, JnanaJyothi is a supplementary education center for the daughters of female sex workers. The purpose of the project is to promote women's empowerment and prevent sexual exploitation through education. Currently, there is one pilot center running in the central village of Kalghatgi. Girls from the ages of nine through fifteen attend this center six days a week, from six to nine p.m., and are taught math, Kannada, and English. The BCT provides vans for the girls in the three neighboring villages to attend the program. In the past year, the BCT project coordinators observed that the JnanaJyothi students have achieved greater academic success in their respective schools. However, they have also acknowledged that the daughters of sex workers are a stigmatized, vulnerable group, and academic success is insufficient to address the psychological and social repercussions of this discrimination. For my Lang Opportunity project, I will collaborate with the BCT to establish three additional JnanaJyothi centers and design a more holistic curriculum. With only one central program, the population benefiting from the JnanaJyothi program is limited. Concerned about their daughters' safety, many mothers' hesitate to send their daughters for evening classes. In response, the BCT and I will work together to establish what we have informally titled "mini JnanaJyothi centers" in each peripheral locality (a total of three). These centers will not be newly constructed but rather will begin in a rented house or the village temple.
Riana Shah of Gujarat, India. I co-founded Independent Thought & Social Action in India (ITSA India), with Jwalin Patel in my senior year of high school. ITSA India is an education reform organization that creates socially responsible youth leaders through critical thinking, writing, discussion and action on social issues. ITSA India did its first community needs assessment in Summer 2010 and did its first pilot project in Summer 2011 with support from a Swarthmore Foundation grant. The Indian education system was created in the wake of the industrial revolution to produce technicians, not thinkers, and education reform is one of India's biggest needs, at the moment. ITSA provides young adults with the tools to think reflectively and analytically on issues of social justice through workshops on issues such as identity, gender and other social issues. Motivated young adults (high school & college students) develop strong writing and communication skills enabling them to communicate with those in power. ITSA India empowers youth to organize social action projects within their communities by providing youth with a Social Action training and mentors to help guide their project. We strive to provide a supportive network of socially conscious young adults within students' communities while providing them with the resources to carry out effective projects. Through the Lang Opportunity Scholarship, ITSA will reach it's next level, which involves sustainability of this initiative, through the creation of a sustainable revenue model, solid field-tested curricula, an international exchange program and organizational infrastructure building. The next step also involves creating a toolkit that will make replicable along with tools including teacher training, extensive curriculum and a sustainable revenue model guidelines to maximize impact.
Mariana Stavig of Lutz, FL, USA. Young women in the U.S. have, since the 1970s, experienced recorded increased dissatisfaction with their appearance and self worth. Popular culture, the media, and personal and interpersonal pressures often combine to threaten a growing girl's confidence, making her more susceptible to early and unsafe sex, drug abuse, body image problems, and educational failure (Lecroy & Daley 2001). The effect is exacerbated among young Latina women who statistically experience lower self worth than their white peers due to the complicated dynamics of poverty and marginalization, present in an immigrant community (Girls Inc.). As we become increasingly aware of these issues, brave men and women are speaking out and starting a girls' movements across the world. My name is Mariana Stavig, and I hope to be a part of this movement. As Peruvian American from the Tampa Bay Area, I am very much aware of and interested in the situation of young Latina women. I am applying for this grant with the hope of continuing and expanding a project I began last summer, a project aimed at helping young Latinas realize their intelligence, strength, beauty, and great potential. By creating a girls' group with the help of a Swarthmore Foundation grant, I was able to work with extraordinary young women, exploring with them ideas of self-esteem, beauty, education, strength, health, and confidence. Given an LOS grant, I hope to expand my original program, creating multiple girls' groups over the course of my next few college summers.
Akunna Uka of Mount Vernon, NY, USA . As a Lang Opportunity Scholar, I would pursue a project to develop a General Education Development (GED) test preparation and adult transition to post secondary education program. The project I propose would serve many Chester residents who have dropped out of high school but have a renewed commitment to continuing their education. The Chester Education Foundation (CEF) welcomes the opportunity to host the program at its office in the Community Hospital, an optimal location easily accessible by public transportation, located on West 9th Street. The project would serve Chester adults, one-third of whom do not have regular access to private vehicles. Hosting a program in a central location is important for broad community access. Planning the project would continue from now throughout the fall of my junior year. CEF has hosted a GED program in the past and is excited to collaborate with me to host a GED program with the added component of support for students who plan on pursuing post secondary education. I have had numerous discussions with a GED teacher, Ms. Mary, who has worked in the area for several years and is willing to lend her support. Cheryl Cunningham, the Executive Director of CEF, has also made efforts to connect me with staff of other organizations in Chester that provide GED services. Upon receiving the LOS, I would reconnect with the staff of other organizations and they would support my project because they would view it as an additional resource to their goal of increasing educational access instead of as competition. Collaboration with established organizations is essential for my project to be sustainable. Creating a plan of action for the project will include meetings with Cheryl Cunningham, staff of other organizations, and attending Communities-That-Care (CTC) Meetings, an award winning consortium of local organizations committed to delinquency and violence prevention. I am pursuing this project because, through my work at the Chester Education Foundation, I learned that Chester residents want more GED and adult transition services.
Minh Vo of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. This project proposal stems from my desire to pioneer change on an issue in Vietnam that has largely been ignored, to utilize my educational experience to institute social justice in the country, and to aid a population that lacks the support resources to realize their potential. Four years ago, I was a tour guide for foreigners who wanted to see and talk to orphans in Vietnam. Back then, I had little understanding of the orphans and their plight. I thought their underachievement, which the Vietnamese society is aware of, was due to their 'laziness' - an attribute that the Vietnamese people have always despised. A year later, I founded a service project to raise public awareness of the plight of orphans and HIV/AIDS orphans in Vietnam. Still, at that time, my focus was on educating the public, not on interacting with the orphans or improving their quality of life. I still believed that Vietnamese orphans were responsible for their own underachievement in school. Then, during the summer of 2010, I developed a relationship with the all-boys orphanage named Long Hoa in my hometown of Ho Chi Minh City. There, I realized that orphans' underachievement is a function of their low self-esteem. Later I focused my outreach on a small group of orphan youths in Long Hoa, and learnt that very few support resources address this problem for which even the orphanage administration has little concern. In early 2011, I worked with the Gentle Fund Organization (GFO), a non-profit that operates a Learning Center on Long Hoa Campus, to propose a program that matches orphaned youths with adult mentors. As an expression of our collaborative work, my proposed LOS project is to build a safe and supportive Youth Club in GFO's Learning Center in which adolescent orphans can develop their self-confidence through making small-step achievements. We believe that by building a youth-led club where orphaned youths feel safe, free of stigma, encouraged to serve others, and supported through skills workshops, the youths will build confidence in an appropriate way to improve their self-esteem. Consequently, this esteem will prove vital for success in school, character development and career choices.