As the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship, six Swarthmore sophomores will be tackling social-action projects around the globe.
"Our scholars in the Class of 2016 will undertake social action projects as nearby as Chester and as far away as Ghana," says Joy Charlton, executive director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, "and we are excited about the potential of their plans."
"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 social problems," says Lang Scholar Advisor Jennifer Magee. "In every location, they'll have the chance to generate a needed social resource or contribute to a significant social change. We look forward to working with each scholar."
Selection criteria for Lang Opportunity Scholarships include distinguished academic and extra-curricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. Each scholar receives a guaranteed summer internship, educational enhancement funds, and the opportunity to apply for up to $10,000 to create a project that addresses a social problem. Students who successfully complete a project are also eligible for up to $5,000 each year for graduate studies, up to two years. The program was conceived and endowed by Eugene M. Lang '38.
Efua Asibon (Tema, Ghana)
The lack of tailored educational programs and interventions for individuals with developmental disabilities and the lack of support for special educators in Ghana inspired Asibon's proposed Lang project, SustainAbility. SustainAbility will be a periodic and easily replicable teacher training program which will also serve as a platform for special educators in Ghana to brainstorm ideas and to involve in policy making. She plans to do an internship with The Center of Autism in Philadelphia next summer to help her develop skills for building bridges and networks to improve on the existing program plan.
Al Brooks (Palo Alto, Calif.)
The Student Equity Action Network (SEAN), Brooks' proposed Lang project, is a small, grassroots organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap in the Palo Alto Unified School District. He writes, "With my project I would like to firmly establish ourselves within the community with well-endowed scholarships and subsidies to pay for students to take the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT as well as to pay for everything from pre-school to college application fees, tutors, etc. and all of the resources the students who historically achieve in Palo Alto have access to. I would also like to ensure that the work that we started with A-G Alignment is seen through and has support starting in kindergarten to ensure no minority students fall off track."
Erin Ching (Seattle, Wash.)
For her Lang project, Ching plans to use her passion for bicycles, mechanical skills, and experience with community-based bicycle programs to implement a bicycle empowerment scheme that will aim to confront gender inequity in a northern Indian community. The program will provide young women with bicycles and mechanical skills as well as offer an enriching, educational experience to promote self-actualization.
A'Dorian Murray-Thomas (Newark, N.J.)
SHE Wins Institute, Murray-Thomas' proposed Lang project, will be a 10-week summer program for Newark girls who have lost a parent or sibling to homicide. Participants will be empowered to use their experience as a catalyst for personal, intellectual and civic development. Fusing therapeutic, self-empowerment, and social justice models, SHE Wins Institute aims to help students acquire a lifelong civic-minded framework that develops their intellectual, personal, and civic selves. The outcome will be a cohort of youth empowered to be agents of positive change throughout their communities.
Michaela Shuchman (Philadelphia, Pa.)
For her Lang project, Shuchman proposes to create a drama program, The Stage of Life, which will introduce Philadelphia middle school students to acting. The program will give participants tools to use in their everyday lives through the study of acting. She writes, "Starting out in one classroom in one school, my idea is to have the program expand to more classrooms and schools, involving more students from both the Philadelphia schools and Swarthmore and creating a lasting bond between the two. After the first year of the curriculum, a drama club at the school would be created to help continue to supply theater outlets to the students who really want them. My goal is that the students of the schools in Philadelphia always have the ability and opportunity to tell their stories."
Ciara Williams (Chester, Pa.)
Williams' proposed Lang project, Chester Green's Environmental Education Program, is an initiative to collapse the distinction between the natural, home, and school environments. The students at Stetser Elementary have already begun environmental education. "My program will create a curriculum and a set of activities and projects throughout the year to supplement the school's garden and ECO School program," writes Williams. Her Lang project will work towards the goal of empowering Chester residents through concrete experiences with the aim of achieving environmental literacy. The ultimate goal of the project is to have empowered 35 or so individuals in the principles of environmental justice. As "Environmental Justice Ambassadors," these individuals will be responsible for teaching others.