ALUMNI NEWSLETTER Volume 1, Issue 1
LAUNCHING THE ALUMNI NETWORK Be a part of our vision.
As the 2011 school year kicks off, NUCHR is thinking big. What was once a small selection of delegates and staff members has become a large and growing group of qualified NUCHR participants and organizers. Each of these individuals continues to gain knowledge of and promote the universality of human rights. To achieve the greatest impact, it is important that NUCHR alumni remain connected and working together. A code of universal human rights cannot be achieved without collaboration among those who live by it. The Alumni Network will enable the NUCHR team to connect over topics, opportunities and geographic areas of interest. Become an active part of the Alumni Network and read on about both the past and future of NUCHR.
The Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights (NUCHR) provides a forum to analyze complexities within the modern field of human rights by recognizing cultural relativism, difficulty in consensus, and potential discrepancies between design and implementation.
Reasons to create an Alumni Profile
• It’s easy! Just log in with your given username and click on Profile under the Alumni menu. • Keep in touch with friends. • Meet new people with similar interests or backgrounds. • Learn about NUCHR events and conference topics. • Share and discover opportunities to continue work on human rights issues.
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Human Rights in Transit: Issues of Forced Migration By 2011 Co-Directors Scott Chilberg, Julie Kornfeld and Katharine Nasielski
s co-directors of the 2011 Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights (NUCHR), we are very excited to introduce the first quarterly NUCHR Alumni Newsletter, which has been put together thanks to your contributions and to the hard work of our Outcomes Chair, Arielle Sullivan. We hope to use this publication as an avenue to showcase the accomplishments of NUCHR alumni, to provide updates on yearly NUCHR programming including the annual conference, to broadcast future opportunities in the field of human rights, and to create a space that continues to foster the community formed during the weekend of NUCHR. All three of us are thrilled to be leading our extremely talented executive board in planning this yearâ€™s conference. We have all been involved with NUCHR in some capacity for at least two years, and we are very happy to be working with each other and the entire NUCHR staff. We are excited to build on prior confer- From Left: Co-Directors Julie, Scott and Katharine ences and to capitalize on opportunities to expand what we have identified with the help of our predecessors, advisors, conference alumni, and members. After much discussion and research, we finalized our conference topic and the layout. This yearâ€™s Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights will focus on forced migration across borders. We hope to utilize this theme to analyze the effect of borders on the universality of human rights, and more specifically to discuss the roles of home and host countries in the protection of the rights of stateless migrants. Panelists and speakers will be asked to examine this issue from multiple perspectives to highlight all of the populations that are affected, both directly and indirectly, by this phenomenon. We chose this theme because we feel that it is both a useful framework for examining the responsibilities of various entities in the application and enforcement of human rights and a relevant issue internationally and domestically. Our sincere hope is that this conference will simultaneously educate delegates on the issue of forced migration through different vantage points and provide a framework for the analysis of human rights in a broader context. Delegates can then apply this framework in other discussions, spreading awareness and using their acquired skills as an access point to fight for victims of human rights violations. We will continue to solidify the conference schedule in the next several months, and hope to confirm our major speakers in the next few weeks. Thank you for your commitment to NUCHR, and we hope that you will use this newsletter and our new website, www.nuchr.net, as a way to stay involved in the conference and in the study of human rights.
Apply Now Online! www.nuchr.net
Conference 2010: Urban Slums: The Shadow of the Humanitarian Generation
By Delegate Development Chair Jessica Allen elegates once again came from across the country to attend the Northwestern Conference on Human Rights, held Jan. 21-24 on the topic of “Urban Slums: The Humanitarian Generation.” University and community members joined delegates to hear distinguished activists, policymakers and academics with experience around the globe. The seventh NUCHR feautured opening speaker Katherine Sierra, Vice-President for Sustainable Development at the World Bank, closing keynote Robert Neuwirth, a blogger and author of “Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World” who has lived in squatter communities around the world, from Istanbul to Nairobi, and a variety of panelists who spoke on topics relevant to the Chicago urban community, personal activism and potential urban solutions. In the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, the conference’s topic was especially meaningful and somber, and we were proud to collaborate with Partners in Health. Delegates also had the benefit of closed-discussion case studies. Delegates were divided into small groups to explore issues in slums of cities such as Mexico City, Paris and Casablanca. After closing presentations, the group which presented a community solution for a slum in Nairobi won a private breakfast with conference speakers. However, all delegates had the opportunity to meet with a few of the panelists who came to our closing banquet. The exploration of urban slums continued with the annual NUCHR winter student-organized seminar. Each week students had a chance to delve into the complexities of the 2010 topic and often hear from distinguished speakers with expertise in areas significant to urban environments. Topics included everything from urban planning to food deserts and mobile services. The annual class is also a great opportunity for students to have a hand in creating their own coursework by shaping the trajectory of it - heavily discussion-based, the class is designed for class members to be strong players. Many students in the class took their studies a step forward and went on the first NUCHR trip abroad. Students traveled to Buenos Aires, Argentina to meet with NGO’s, government officials and activists doing work related to urban slums. Whether helping paint a mural and bonding with community members in one favela, listening to the inspiring story of a former favela member who won the housing lottery or speaking with government housing officials, the 11 undergraduates came away with first-hand experience while having a great time. It was a powerfully-packed week, and while they enjoyed learning tango, trying Buenos Aires culinary delights and bonding with the host NGO, the various meetings and activities filling each day and the incredible people met along the way is what made the week memorable. Katherine Sierra, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, revealed the successes and failures of responses to slums around the world in her keynote address at the 2010 Conference opening.
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NUCHR may have come to an end, but many who have been involved continue their commitments to human rights issues. The following alumni have shared their experiences:
Mary Katherine Gleissner Co-Director 2010
This summer I've been working in Karachi, Pakistan for the NGO Concern for Children Trust. They address the health and mental health concerns of the residents of Machar Colony, Karachi's largest unofficial squatter community. NUCHR 2010's theme, "Urban Slums: The Shadow of the Humanitarian Generation," continues to dominate my life even AFTER being Co-Director of the conference! My Pakistani friends here outside of my work are very atuned to humanitarian causes and human rights issues the world over, and yet most of them are shocked when they see my pictures and hear my stories from Machar Colony...a community that's suffering right in their shadow, here in Karachi! In my internship, I have also been given the opportunity to serve a consultancy role--studying some of Concern for Children's failed projects and reapproaching the target communities using Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) methodology. I learned a lot about ABCD throug the NUCHR 2009 theme, "Humanitarian Aid: Sovereignty, Accountability, and Effectiveness,". I'm no expert on the Machar Colony community, and I cannot hope to be by the time my internship here in Karachi is over. But I do have some knolwedge, resources, and connections to offer because of my time with NUCHR and at Northwestern in general: I can lead workshops for my coworkers on ABCD methodology and assist in applying the ABCD methodology to Concern for Children's fledgling and existing programs. I can connect my coworkers to Northwestern's own ABCD Institute. I can introduce my coworkers over Skype to professors I am connected to because of NUCHR. I miss being involved with NUCHR so much, but I feel that I am still utilizing so many of the skills I honed through NUCHR, and I still get to explore the issues that NUCHR gave me the space to dig deeper on in the first place. Enjoy NUCHR while you can! I really miss it, but it is nice to know that, apparently, it's never really going to leave my life!!
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Vera Kiss Delegate 2009
Vera Kiss’ CEAC experience.
Poorav Rohatgi Delegate 2009
Last summer (2009) I had the privilege of interning at the New Communities Partnership in Dublin, Ireland through the gracious funding of the Kenan Institute for Ethics and Duke Engage. Having never been to Ireland it was a challenging immersive experience where I dealt with the many problems immigrants and refugees encountered in Dublin. NCP specifically deals with this group and their issues ranging from racism to deportation to English and vocational training. My work involved me with various immigrant associations including those of Chinese, Congolese, Cameroonian, Angolan, Nigerian, and Afghani immigrants. They had all come to Ireland for a better life for themselves and their children simply wanting to fit in with the native Irish and learn their traditions while sharing their own. As a community organizer in the South, my Irish experiences have heavily informed my work here. In a way, many things are similar with regards to challenges that immigrants and low-income families face. Other things like race and racism at first seemed a little less nuanced to me until recent debates in the U.S. concerning undocumented immigrants have convinced me otherwise. My time at NCP and Dublin was truly phenomenal and has highlighted for me how many human rights struggles are shared and non-unique.
The summer following my inspiring experience at NUCHR I embarked on a one-year Princeton in Latin America fellowship in Mexico. I worked with Convivencia Educativa Asociación Civil (CEAC), an education focused non-profit organization that proposes Comunidades de Aprendizaje, an inventive educational model as the basis of school reform in Mexico. The organization concentrates its efforts on the margins of the school system, seeking to improve the quality of education where results are the lowest. The primary focus of CEAC’s activities is to replace traditional student-teacher hierarchies with a horizontal chain of tutorial relationships, thus building a community of learners or a comunidad de aprendizaje. A notable aspect of schools working with Comunidades de Aprendizaje is the friendly learning environment where school discipline and divisions between grades become superfluous, as students work on their own, investigating topics of their interest, which builds their analytical thinking and confidence. Thus instead of operating on macro-level policy planning or advocating technological fixes and theoretical models, CEAC’s focus is on the micro-level relationships in schools and the individual experiences of students and teachers. Working with CEAC has been an incredibly enriching experience both in terms of gaining exposure to educational challenges in rural Mexico and of understanding how a small grassroots initiative as CEAC can grow into a partner of the Mexican Education Ministry in delivering high-impact education reform. Since I had left Mexico in the summer of 2009, CEAC’s initiative grew into a project operating in over 9,000 schools across the country. My work with CEAC has further motivated me to pursue a career in development. I just finished a Master degree in Development Studies at Cambridge University and will be starting a new job from the fall.
More Features... Alexander Schmittlein
I spent the previous two months studying at the Central European University (CEU) and interning at the Budapest branch of the American NGO Freedom House. I edited the 2010 edition of Freedom House Europe's annual publication "Nations in Transit." Each year Freedom House Europe compiles a collection of reports on the state of democracy in 29 former Soviet and Central/Eastern European nations. "Nations in Transit" is researched and written by third-party consultants (former ambassadors, professors, and diplomats) who collaborate with Freedom House officials in determining a numerical rating for the state of democracy in these countries by analyzing and scoring seven categories: National Democratic Governance, Electoral Process, Civil Society, Independent Media, Local Democratic Governance, Judicial Framework and Independence, and Corruption. After launching "Nations in Transit" online at the end of June, I spent my remaining month updating Freedom House Europe's website and contacting various Budapest institutions and organizations (for example the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) to whom we could donate backlogs of Freedom House publications and research material. I also designed a "Nations in Transit" Simulation for CEU students in the fall. During my time in Budapest I also audited a summer course at the CEU. Professor Andras Pap led the class which discussed the theoretical and practical aspects of human rights. We had weekly guest lecturers from local organizations that dealt with different human rights issuses. One week a member of the Hungarian branch of UNHCR came to discuss the subject of asylum, and another week a lawyer from a local Hungarian NGO came to discuss the right to assembly and its relevancy to a case concerning the Hungarian National Guard.
During the past year, Jennifer has spearheaded a group initative with some of her fellow students at the University of Miami, working to establish a summer fellowship program for students at UM who are interested in engaging in public service internships locally, nationally and abroad. To further their commitment to action, they have attended the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference, a meeting for students, national youth organizations, and university officials to discuss solutions to pressing global issues. They also received the ACC-IAC Fellows Program in Creativity and Innovation, a $5,000 grant for original student-driven projects to urther research, scholarly, or innovative projects. The University of Miami Summer Service Fellowship Program seeks to support students who have the desire to work in public interest positions, which would otherwise be uncompensated. The program will provide qualified students with a stipend to offset the cost of their expenses as well as a social network of civic minded individuals who work to actively engage their communities. Projects may vary in size and scope, but the fundamental goal of the program is to promote awareness and understanding of pressing social issues and direct service to underserved communities.
Jennifer Safstromâ€™s group at UM.
Mark Svensson Delegate 2010
Mark Svensson, a May '10 graduate of Rockland Community College's Honors Program, is transferring to Georgetown University in Fall '10. Svensson is currently on a congressional internship in Washington, D.C. He is most notably recognized for being co-founder/co-chair of the SUNY Rockland Anti-Slavery Committee, which led to his selection to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University 2010 Conference. At CGIU 2010 Svensson's commitment entitled "Be the Key to Freedom" was among a select few commitments to be recognized for its outstanding work. The project which aimed â€œto stem the flow on enslaved people into the U.S...as human slaves with New York state functioning as one of the largest hubs for the U.S. slave networkâ€? (www.cgiu.org). A resolution co-authored by Svensson and another RCC grad was successfully implemented by Rockland County. Svensson hopes to continue his work on human rights at Georgetown.
Our First Issue Thank you to everyone who submitted! Editor: Arielle Sullivan To submit a feature in the future or unsubscribe to this newsletter contact firstname.lastname@example.org