Beth Wofford

Elizabeth Wofford (Dzeno): Between 2009 and 2011 Beth studied at the University of Maryland – she graduated with with a Bachelor of Arts in Socio-Cultural Anthropology. In 2010, Beth studied in Prague, where where she first encountered discrimination against the Roma community. She spent the spring semester of 2011 interning at the Global Terrorism Database (a research project of the US Department of Homeland Security). Beth was also a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and the Sigma Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Fraternity. After her fellowship Beth wrote: “I am absolutely more confident. I know that I can work through tough issues and be able to make a product happen. I have more faith in myself and in other people to get things done that need to get done.”



Ahoj Praha!

23 May

….And it’s here. I leave for Europe in 3 days. Training has begun and I am getting more and more excited about the potential of my time in the Czech Republic. I also am nervous… beyond nervous. Everything is up in the air and as a tried and true list maker I am starting to sweat a little bit. Nervousness is always a good thing though – it gives all of us an edge and a focus which I think will be crucial to my time in the field.

Before I can even start to really sink my teeth into my fellowship, I will be in ICELAND. That’s right; volcanoes, midnight sun, and the northern lights are in my future. This program is not associated with the Advocacy Project, but instead is a University of Maryland study abroad program which will be an elective for my Master of Public Policy degree program. I will be studying Nordic Family and Child Health care and comparing their systems to the system in the United States. I hope that some of what I learn there will be applicable to my time in the Czech Republic – but who truly knows? I’m excited to have the chance to complete a class while going to a country I have always wanted to visit. Anyway, back to the main event: my fellowship.

I am hoping to be working for Roma women for my fellowship with the Dženo Association. AP has a history of quilting to tell the story of marginalized groups, so perhaps I will be able to get a similar project going to further the interests of Roma women. I still have a lot of research that I would like to get done – but I am excited to see what other organization I can contact to further develop this issue. I stumbled upon a Roma festival happening in Prague this week (check it out: khamoro.cz) and there is actually going to be a documentary presented about Roma women called Women (Re) present. So I now have my first lead on who I am going to seek out to be another resource for Roma women, and hopefully even more!

Also, I should probably mention that I have been to Prague before. I studied there in the spring of 2010 and am very excited to return to Eastern/Central Europe. It will be refreshing to be there with a purpose rather than just studying, and to be doing something worthwhile, rather than an internship where I make copies and deliver coffee. (Not to say there is anything wrong with that – it’s just not my thing.) I have to say, Prague is a GORGEOUS place. It will be hard to connect the discrimination experienced by Roma there with the picturesque beauty of the city.

Prague Castle Grounds

Taken by Beth Wofford May 2010

I am worried about a few things. Well, more than a few, but I’m trying to be positive. First of all, I haven’t had any contact with my host organization. I’m hoping that I will be able to get an email while I’m in Iceland, because as of right now I am simply living with an American woman for the summer. I am also worried about the reactions I will get from other people in Prague. I was talking to a friend yesterday, who shall remain nameless, who studied in a country in Western Europe. When I was chatting with her about my fellowship she responds with “I’m not going to lie, I have a pretty poor opinion of Gypsies.” This left me torn. She is a wonderful human being, but she said everything that I am so concerned about. They’re dirty. They’re lazy. They want to steal money. I am still struggling with how to talk about my fellowship while remaining sensitive to everyone’s opinions. It should be interesting. And I love interesting.

Here’s to an awesome summer and bracing myself for whatever it throws at me!

EDIT: In Day Two of our training we compiled a video about ourselves, check mine out!

[youtube 3-m1QvAZ8ZQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-m1QvAZ8ZQ]

Posted By Beth Wofford

Posted May 23rd, 2011

2 Comments

  • Margo

    May 23, 2011

     

    Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.

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