As the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship (LOS), four Swarthmore sophomores will strive with partners toward systems change with an array of projects.
A signature program of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, the LOS Program supports the innovative efforts of students working on issues of social concern in deep consultation with community members.
“We’re very excited about the Lang Scholars in our LOS Class of 2024, who aim to systemize and sustain community-supported projects both locally and abroad,” says Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center and associate professor of political science. “From a solar installation and training program in nearby Chester and a domestic violence prevention program just an hour away in Reading, to community health programs in Mongolia and Burundi, our students are practicing engaged scholarship while learning from and with community partners.”
“The Lang Scholar Class of 2024 is an inspiring cohort who exemplify systems thinking for social change,” adds Jennifer Magee, senior associate director of the Lang Center, who advises the scholars. “They are working in concert with community-based initiatives, expanding their collective knowledge base about possible solutions, building upon what's already being done, and engaging stakeholders who are in it for the long haul.”
The members of the Lang Scholar Class of 2024 are:
Connor Barrett ’24 (Reading, Pa.)
“Domestic violence and abuse is an invisible and stigmatized issue: Many people will internalize their experienced violence and never seek help. Many survivors face myriad complications, whether they are at risk for further harm, blame themselves for the harm they faced, and so on. To that end, I intend to provide valuable resources for survivors in Berks County through a partnership with the existing organizations and education on domestic violence prevention.
“Being a Lang Opportunity Scholar affirms that I am able to be optimistic about being able to instill positive, tangible change in my community, with the support of my peers and mentors. I hope to not only begin an open, productive conversation about domestic abuse and violence in Reading but work towards improving the lives of survivors and preventing future violence.”
Khaliun Enkhbayar ’24 (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)
“Seventy-seven percent of all deaths in Mongolia are due to preventable and early detectable diseases. As a Lang Scholar, I am aiming to address this reactive, not proactive, nature of Mongolian health care system and promote equal access to preventative health care in areas of Ulaanbaatar that are subject to environmental injustice. My project is intended to focus on ger districts, semi-urban clusters of traditional Mongolian yurts around the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, where people are most exposed to air pollution and other health hazards. In my implementation, I intend to enhance community-based solutions that are hybrid of both technological and conventional interventions.
“Being a Lang Scholar offers me an opportunity to integrate the things I am learning in my classes at Swarthmore and the advocacy work I have been developing in health care since high school into one coherent and impactful work. Through my project, I aspire to create a sustainable change in the health care accessibility of Ulaanbaatar and collect experiences that allow me to keep learning about health and the extent it reaches in our lives.”
Jean Luc Ishimwe ’24 (Bujumbura, Burundi)
“For the past two years, I have been working for Abarundikazi Period Movement, a nonprofit organization that I co-founded that aims to address menstrual poverty and stigma and raise awareness about the importance of adequate menstrual health for schoolgirls in Burundi. Working closely and actively with local communities, I intend to implement the Ubuntu Mu Kwezi social project that seeks to establish self-reliant and independent menstrual clubs in 10 underserved secondary schools in five provinces of the country. These clubs will raise awareness on the negative effects of period poverty and stigma on school attendance and dropout in particular and its socioeconomic impact on communities in general in addition to manufacturing and distributing period kits to schoolgirls in need in their respective communities.
“To be a Lang Scholar is an incredible opportunity to grow intellectually and humanly by being part of and working with a talented and supportive community of change-makers. Through the project, I hope to help induce a shift in the general perception of menstrual health from being a female issue to being a social one in each of these different communities and more importantly raise awareness about the socialeconomic impact of menstrual poverty and stigma in Burundi.”
Ariza Nanji ’24 (Overland Park, Kan.)
“The mission of my project is to create green-energy jobs through solar-installation training in Chester. I hope to work with community partners both in Chester, Pa., and around the United States to create green-energy job opportunities by providing solar-installation training workshops. Low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by inaccessibility to affordable and clean energy. The energy produced from renewable resources like solar can help reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while also being significantly cost-efficient for these communities, which historically spend a greater portion of their income on energy bills. Creating a network for solar installation training can transform the community towards a just transition away from a fossil fuel-dominated area and open new career opportunities within the green economy.
“To be a Lang Opportunity Scholar is the honor to work and learn alongside like-minded individuals who share similar passions for creating positive change in both the local and global community. Through my project, I hope to create meaningful and long-lasting networks of individuals and organizations committed to bringing new green-energy career opportunities for Chester.”