Improving the Human Condition
In 2010, a total of 20 SFS graduate students (MSFS, MAAS and MALAS) and 13 undergraduates were awarded Improving the Human Condition grants from the Dean’s Leadership Fund. The grants cover travel and sometimes living expenses for internships in remote corners of the world.
I get the most out of working with organizations that emphasize social justice.
Empowering Young Women in Cambodia
The countryside of northwest Cambodia, though economically challenged, is rich in human spirit. Young women there want to learn more and to do more—to join the ranks of leaders in their country’s civic and social spheres. Theirs will be challenging journeys. Loren Hyatt (MSFS’11) spent last summer helping some of them—although she says she learned more from them than they might have from her. “I got a totally different understanding of the culture and issues facing the next generation there,” says Hyatt, who taught a life skills, leadership and women’s empowerment course to 20 girls who lived in a cramped dormitory in Siem Reap so that they would be able to continue their education. “I challenged them. I said, ‘If you were the prime minister of Cambodia, how would you tackle these problems?’”
Hyatt worked for the U.S.-based Ponheary Ly Foundation, founded by Ponheary Ly, a Cambodian national and survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide. Her summer also included grant writing, donor outreach and even providing medical assistance in four primary schools serving children from the poorest rural villages.
Lending a Helping Hand in Haiti
Matthew Ippel (F’13) had already been to Honduras twice—“so I thought I’d seen poverty at its worst,” he says. But that didn’t prepare him for what he saw in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, where aid organizations are working to help determined Haitians rebuild their capital and their country. Ippel spent his summer preparing for, then leading a relief trip to, Haiti for the nonprofit group International Samaritan, the same charity through which Ippel had taken the Central America trips. He and others joined construction crews working on new schools and other facilities—“everything from putting in doors to painting rooms to installing mosquito netting.”
“I get the most out of working with organizations that emphasize social justice and serve the poorest of the poor,” Ippel says. At International Samaritan’s Michigan offices prior to the Haiti trip, Ippel also researched service trips offered by Jesuit high schools nationwide and helped with preparations for a group that was headed to Egypt to build houses.