As the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship (LOS), four Swarthmore sophomores will strive with partners towards systems change with an array of projects.
“The Lang Scholar Class of 2023 is an inspiring cohort who exemplify engaged scholarship,” says Jennifer Magee, senior associate director for the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, who advises the scholars. “With the mentoring and resources available through the Lang Center, Lang Scholars gain the knowledge, connections, and skills needed to craft effective and innovative solutions to complex social challenges.”
"These Lang Opportunity Scholars inspire us because their engaged scholarship projects are local without being parochial--they're embedded in specific communities around the globe yet with broad applicability to many other situations," adds Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center and associate professor of political science.
“They've also done impressive work given the pandemic's limitations. Throughout the COVID-19 period the Lang Center has been working to adapt engaged scholarship methods to the realities of remote learning, and this LOS cohort is helping to lead the way."
The members of the Lang Scholar Class of 2023 are:
Daniel Torres Balauro ’23 (Tafuna, American Samoa)
“For Pacific Islanders, the climate crisis represents not only ecological losses, but also the threat to erase cultures and identities. Despite this fact, the narrative of Pacific communities, alongside those of others on the front lines of climate change, are often disregarded in the mainstream environmental movement. My project aims to address these inequalities by developing a program to equip Pacific Islanders with the political advocacy tools to effectively contribute to national climate justice discourse. I hope to demonstrate that an inclusive advocacy community is not just valuable, but absolutely crucial in achieving both climate and racial justice.”
“Being a Lang Scholar means that I will have both the financial and networking support to affect important social change in my Pacific community. Through my project, it is my hope to shift the Western-centric paradigm of mainstream environmentalism to one that effectively uplifts the stories of frontline communities.”
Aleina Dume ’23 (Richmond Hill, N.Y.)
“My intended project, 'FLI to Graduation,' is a six-week college-transition summer program for incoming first-generation and low-income (FLI) students. Through near-peer mentorship, project-based learning, and career exploration, a cohort of New York City high school graduates will develop skill sets to maintain their health and wellness, achieve academic success, and begin to become career-ready. This will be achieved through collaborative workshops and activities that encourage self-expression and community building, which lead to the cohort’s graduation and their completed portfolios.”
“Being a Lang Scholar means that I get to work with others who are giving back to their community and do the same, both with my own project and in the future as a mentor. My main goal is to create a supportive network for incoming college students that encourages them to develop their confidence and agency and, ultimately, finish a degree.”
Haron Kalii ’23 (Kitui, Kenya)
“I intend to create the Elimu Kwanza After-School Program in the Kasaala region of Kitui County, an area of Kenya that suffers from low literacy levels compared to the national average. This project seeks to enhance economic development by increasing education access in the region and aims to improve the academic experience for students in this region by offering after-school activities, like clubs and sports, and providing the resources required for students to thrive intellectually and stay in school.”
“Being a Lang Scholar means that I get to be a member of a very self-driven group of individuals who have chosen to tackle very challenging problems in a bid to improve society. I feel honored to be under the tutelage of such experienced social innovators, as I prepare work for my own project.”
Philippe Kame ’23 (Douala, Cameroon)
“In Cameroon, very few museums exists, and the few that are present are not easily accessible or are just not well-known. Yet individuals’ connection to their history and culture is important to understand themselves, but also the people and places around them. My project thus aims at improving the accessibility of museums’ collections to a wider Cameroonian audience, by digitizing these collections and providing an intuitive and interactive way to engage with this content.”
“To be a Lang Scholar to me means working with diverse and dynamic individuals to make a better sense of the world and attempt to make a meaningful change. I hope for this to be a meaningful learning opportunity that pushes the boundaries of my abilities, but also a successful attempt at consequentially giving back to my community.”