Lang Scholars to focus on youth education, waste management, and media justice

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The new crop of Lang Opportunity Scholars were recently named from the sophomore class: Elizabeth Crow, Kylah Field, Diego Garcia-Montufar, Camila Leiva, Hansi Lo Wang, and Toby Wu. Their planned projects span a wide variety of issues, but common threads run throughout, namely a focus on the importance of education and an interest in international issues.

Crow’s project is based in Arbore, a small village in northeast Romania. She had the opportunity to visit this summer and was surprised that the village’s sixteenth century Byzantine monastery was falling into disrepair. The monastery is unique in that it has frescoes painted on the outside, and Crow plans to “create an art curriculum that leverages the monastery to get kids involved with art and their community.” She originally planned to train the villagers to repair the frescoes themselves, but upon learning the level of training required, she decided instead to help the kids “to create their own self-reflective projects using the monastery… it will teach them about art history and give them a hands-on experience.” Through this curriculum, Crow also hopes to bring increased attention to the monastery from the outside world. Crow began learning Romanian last summer and will be further tutored in the language by a student from Temple next semester.

Field plans to start a partnership between Swarthmore and the historically black St Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, which is a community of six hundred students that “is struggling financially to give its students proper materials and facilities to obtain a quality education… many of the facilities and materials which include furniture and dormitories are over a hundred years old, never having had renovations.” She plans to travel there during school breaks and “bringing books, furniture, and other materials that Swarthmore throws out each year to students.” She also hopes to raise funds for new materials and have Swarthmore and St. Paul’s students “work together to fix up the dormitories and academic buildings around campus,” and hopes that this example will inspire “privileged colleges such as Swarthmore to pair up with historically black colleges nationwide” in order to ensure that more colleges have the resources they need.

Garcia-Montufar plans to work on waste management in San Francisco, an indigenous community in the Peruvian Amazon of about fifteen hundred people. He got the idea when he visited the community for a month after graduating high school in Peru. “It’s an isolated community that deals with waste by itself,” he explained, “and now they just throw rubbish into the streets and into the lake.” He hopes to educate the community about composting and recycling as part of a sustainable waste management program. Garcia-Montufar will spend next summer traveling arund Peru to see how other communities manage their waste, but since “most other communities are in urban areas or in the highlands,” he will have to be creative about implementing different ideas.

Leiva is creating an after school program for high school women in her hometown of Santiago that will focus on “media literacy and media making through digital film.” Chile recently elected its first female president, explained Leiva, but there’s “a paradox… there’s a female president but an absence of women in power in other areas, particularly the media.” The idea for her project was solidified when high school students in Chile held protests “rising out of a discontent with their education.” She plans to do an internship this summer with a media literacy program for young women in the United States, and plans to take off the spring semester of 2008 to implement the program in conjunction with a educational and public health related non-profit in Santiago.

Lo Wang has been a dedicated member of War News Radio during his time at Swarthmore, and his project is what he describes as a “spin-off of War News Radio,” a weekly radio program produced by youth that will focus on different issues in China. Although there’s no war in China, he feels that there’s “a lack of knowledge on the part of Americans about China… these two states have a close relationship and it’s important that we learn about each other.” The program would initially be based at Swarthmore and would involve local high school students in what Lo Wang describes as “an experience in democratic journalism for youth.”

Wu will be creating a youth-led summer program in New York’s Chinatown to “design and implement an oral history collection campaign.” Through the oral history collection project, he hopes to raise youth consciousness about issues affecting the community and “translate that consciousness into action, perhaps through a community-wide exhibit, an online publication, or a meeting with local policymakers.” He wanted to do the project so that “the young people gain a sense of lineage and a better understanding of the lives of the older people in the community,” and also so that “more community voices [can] be heard against mainstream, oversimplified images of the Chinatown… I wanted the community to speak out on issues relating to the effects on 9/11, language access, sanitation, resources for the elderly, employment and working conditions, dependency on tourism, among many others.”

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