Noa Richard, an Obama Scholar, was awarded a Humanity in Action Fellowship to study the history of human rights with a group of students and alumni over the summer (this year’s program will proceed in a virtual format).
Why did you choose to apply for this award?
I chose to apply to this award because the mission of this fellowship stood out to me with its focus on European and American cities and how their individual histories regarding human rights and injustices have laid the foundation in their reactions to changing demographics with refugees and immigrants, anti-semitism and multiculturality. The fellowship offers the chance to engage with other students from all over the world and challenge ideas around Western hegemony in the international context and learn from mentors in the Humanity in Action network.
Describe the work you will be doing on your fellowship.
The Humanity in Action summer fellowship program is an intensive learning experience, each day packed with lectures, discussions, reflective writing, and individual meetings geared towards shaping an action project. I have been placed in the Warsaw summer program; the focus studies Warsaw's history surrounding the Holocaust and The Cold War that has now rendered Poland a homogenous country and created a xenophobic environment for incoming immigrants and refugees. The fellowship aims to immerse its fellows in a specific city's historical and political narrative, but also intends for me to take the lessons and tools I have gained in analyzing these topics and then apply them to an action project in my own community. This action project will have the same approach; an analysis of a city's history and how it informs current political reactions but can focus on a completely different topic and be present in any form, such as a community workshop, written piece, or a documentary film.
What are you most looking forward to during your time as a fellow?
I am most looking forward to learning about Poland's history and its changing demographics. This is one of the rare opportunities where I can study one country's history in such depth and understand its present political climate. I also look forward to meeting other students and to form a part of this international community. I feel that I have much to learn from others that come from cultural backgrounds that might not be represented in the United States political interests or limited outlook on the world.
How have your experiences at Oxy prepared you to apply for this award?
My classes in the DWA and CTSJ departments have definitely taught me how to write critically and recognize the nuances that arise when engaging in discussions on such broad topics that fellowships like these cover. I have also met with the Director of Fellowships, Jennifer Locke, at the HCC to narrow down my interests and which awards would be a good fit to pursue. I also feel that I have had the freedom at Oxy to recognize when a subject or topic interests me and then have the flexibility to take classes or consult guidance with professors who are willing to answer questions and support my journey has been an invaluable experience. Thanks to professors, doors opened to internships at non-profits and community-based volunteering that has taught me many lessons and made me feel more prepared for the specific focus of the Humanity in Action fellowship.
What advice would you give future applicants about the application process?
Before applying I would recommend researching the mission of the fellowship: for example, where is their name coming up in the news? What kinds of events and programs are they supporting? How has the fellowship evolved compared to where it started? Posing these questions allowed me to recognize where the fellowship company and I had similar passions and focuses in common. The excitement I felt when I read about panels they hosted or the work past fellows have completed now, made me envision myself as a part of their community. I believe that finding the areas in which you would make a good fit allows for a more authentic application and allows your answers to be genuine while demonstrating how your interests align with the fellowship. In addition to research on your end, I recommend reaching out to the HCC for revisal of your work and guidance in which areas of your application could be further expanded.