Ten Students Received $5,000 for Human Rights Projects. Here’s What They Did.

The Ninth Annual Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights Symposium showcased the work of last year’s fellows in preparation for this year’s application.

Alexandria Johnson, Deputy News Editor

From working on a Queens District Attorney campaign to engaging with female survivors of war-time sexual violence in Kosovo, the 10 recipients of the Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights presented their projects at The Jerry H. Labowitz Theatre for the Performing Arts last week.

Students selected for the program, which prioritizes undergraduates since they often do not receive funding for projects, recieve a $5,000 grant. In the spring, the students are required to attend a weekly seminar and enroll in an independent study class where NYU professors provide mentorship in preparation for their summer internship at a human rights organization. Last week, recipients of the 2018-2019 fellowship presented their projects, leading up to this years’ application Nov. 1 due date.

Second-year Gallatin master’s student Viktoria Pashtriku is currently focusing on Human Rights, Collective Memory and Transitional Justice. As one of the recipients, Pashtriku used her $5,000 grant to work at the Women’s Association Medica Gjakova, which supports survivors of sexual violence in the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.

While in Kosovo, Pashtriku’s preconceptions of female survivors changed.

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“I had this stereotype that women who are educated, who are from the city, who are more financially independent, who have greater access to large communities of women, are more likely to speak up for themselves and seek resources, compared to rural women from the villages,” Pashtriku said in an interview with WSN. “When I went there, I realized it was the opposite.”

Pashtriku conducted her own research for her master’s thesis, which is partially on how media is connected to wartime sexual violence. While in Kosovo, she interviewed employees at Medica Gjakova. Pashtriku plans to return to Kosovo in January if she needs any supplemental research for her master’s thesis.

Gallatin senior Sophie Walker, whose concentration is Accessibility, Inequality and the Production of Narrative, used the stipend to intern at Court Watch NYC, a watchdog organization focused on court proceedings. 

In addition to distributing political education booklets in different languages for the district attorney election, she reached out to people to encourage them to attend events surrounding progressive DA candidate Tiffany Cabán’s campaign. Cabán ran a grassroots campaign, drawing many comparisons to U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), against Queens political machine candidate Melinda Katz.

After seeing Cabán narrowly lose the election in a hotly contested recount, Walker said she was disheartened.

“Seeing how establishment political parties prevail specifically in the Queens District Attorney election really helped me realize how politics is a scam,” Walker said in a text message to WSN. “While electoral work is important, there are a million other ways of affecting change.”

Other recipients worked on projects from a Syrian-owned online news platform in Lebanon focused on providing primary accounts of Syrian news to a Myanmar-based UNICEF center for displaced people in Southeast Asia.

Robin Jones, Jenna Mote, Romaissaa Benzizoune, Michael Clark, Judy Luo, Rachael Mattson, Ayman Mukerji and Sean Oh also received fellowships.

Email Alex Johnson at [email protected]

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