Isabel Sacks ‘15, a Latin American studies and educational studies special major from Chevy Chase, Md., received a Janice Bond Senior Award for Excellence in Latin American Studies from the Pan American Association of Philadelphia in April.
Janice Bond Plaques are awarded to graduating seniors attending colleges and universities in or around Philadelphia who demonstrate excellence in Latin American studies and extracurricular activities.
Last summer, thanks to a Lang Opportunity Scholarship, Sacks worked at a rural school in the Dominican Republic with Juliana Gutierrez ’16. The duo worked with nine teachers to create social justice workshops. Sacks analyzed this project for her senior thesis and noticed the importance of seeing social justice in different contexts. “While I saw social justice education as challenging oppressive societal structures," she says, "the teachers saw social justice as giving their students tools for upward mobility from rural poverty, teaching them Christian values, and how to live in community.”
Additionally, Sacks studied the educational system in Brazil in Professor of Education Lisa Smulyan '76's Comparative Education class, monitoring comparative education and social change while abroad in Chile and Argentina, and researching bilingual-intercultural education in the indigenous Mapuche community in Santiago, Chile.
Prior to coming to Swarthmore, Sacks took a formative gap year in the Dominican Republic at the same school in which she worked for her Lang Scholarship. The gap year piqued her interest in education in Latin America.
“On a personal level, my host family and the school community are close to my heart, and on an intellectual level, this experience challenged my paradigm of education that I previously took for granted,” she says.