|Ginny Barahona (left) and Sarah Schores (right), both from Georgetown
Each year, The Advocacy Project sends graduate students to volunteer with partner organizations. This is the only fellowship program that matches the passion and skills of graduates with the needs of community-based advocates. 274 Fellows from 61 university programs have served between 2003 and 2015. All brought credit to themselves, their universities and AP. These pages tell their story.
The program began in 2003, when eight graduates signed up as Interns for Peace, as the program was called in the early years (photo below). Numbers grew quickly and by 2009 we were recruiting over 40 students. That was hard to manage, and we have since reduced numbers drastically.
From the start, we asked Fellows to profile the work of their hosts through blogs. In those days, blogging was young and innovative – so much so that our Fellows attracted a profile in Wired.com. In the years since, most of our field programs have begun as blogs. Our work on uterine prolapse was inspired by Nicole Farkouh’s powerful blogs from Nepal in 2007. Our campaign with GDPU to bring accessible toilets to northern Uganda began as a blog by Rebecca Scherpelz in 2011. We rely on our Fellows in many other ways. All of the advocacy quilts profiled in this site were launched by Peace Fellows.
|Benedicta Nanyongo, from KIWOI in Kampala (right) with Scarlett Chidgey (center), the first Fellow to serve at KIWOI.|
Our fellowship program has two intended beneficiaries. First, partner organizations. Fellows provide our community-based partners with resources that they will not get elsewhere – friendship; IT skills; international connections; English; and fundraising proposals. All of this comes free of charge to the partner.
In the second category of beneficiary are the Fellows themselves. They gain valuable field experience, learn human rights from experts, acquire new skills, understand new cultures and grow in confidence. Being a Peace Fellow is sure to build character. Some have have faced real adversity, like Matt Becker who suffered a ruptured appendix in Bangladesh and went straight back to work after leaving hospital. Others arrived with visions of glamorous field travel only to find themselves marooned in a capital, amidst heat and traffic. Somehow they smile through it all and emerge empowered.
Day in the Life of a Fellow: 2010 Fellow Josanna Lewin is one of many Fellows who have described their experience in video.
It is empowering and educational to complete an AP fellowship, and this is born out by our alumni. Former Peace Fellows are high achievers. They have earned PHDs and worked in agencies, development banks and even the White House.
Our fellowship program has produced dazzling intercultural connections. In 2011 Chantal Uwizera, a former refugee from the Rwandan genocide who was studying in Washington, teamed up with Maelanny Purwaningrum, an Indonesian student at Oslo University, to work on child labor in Nepal. In 2013, our first-ever fellows from Saudi Arabia and Syria worked with weavers at the Ain Leuh Weavers Cooperative in Morocco. The world looks less divisive when seen through the eyes of these remarkable young professionals.
|Trail-blazers: The first cohort of summer interns in 2003, with Maria Carland from Georgetown University (far left) and Jeff Bernstein from the One Small Step Foundation. Jeff generously funded two of the internships.
It is never easy to find funding for short-term fellowships, and among those who have given generously to AP or Fellows we would single out NGO partners like Vital Voices, Survivor Corps, and IANSA; benefactors like Cristy West, Herb Parsons, Pamela Omidyar and the Bliss family; AP Board members; university programs like Tufts, SIPA and Georgetown’s MSFS; and foundations like One Small Step and the Jessica Jennifer Cohen Foundation (JJCF). All have believed in our brand and helped to make it a success.
Our thanks to AP staff members who have managed the program since 2003 – Richard Blane; Adriana Boscov; Evelina Hodgson; Stacy Kosko; Amy Burrows; Tassos Coulaloglou; Erin Lapham; and Karin Orr. We also thank the interns who have worked at AP and provided support to Fellows in the field from Washington. This has been a collaborative program from the start. Long may it last!