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2019 Gallatin Global Fellows

Romaissaa Benzizoune

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Fellowship Location: United Kingdom
English PEN’s Writers at Risk Programme

Romaissaa is a junior at Gallatin, and her interdisciplinary concentration, called "Resistance Writing," allows her to study the trajectories of different geopolitical conflicts (with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa), and to be inspired by the art and writing that has emerged from them. She looks forward to working with English PEN’s Writers at Risk Programme this summer, exploring the limitations of freedom of speech and the relationship between legal human rights and artistic expression. As a writer herself, Romaissaa focuses on Muslim-American issues, and her writing has appeared in outlets including Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, and The New York Times.


Michael B. Clark

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Fellowship Location: Kenya
HealthRight International

Michael is a graduate student in the College of Global Public Health, pursuing a master’s in public health with a focus on social and behavioral sciences. His primary research interest is in how stigma impacts the health and HIV vulnerability of marginalized populations, with a focus on sexual minority refugees and migrants in East Africa. A recent graduate of the City University of New York, Michael has received grants and funding from the Fund for Education Abroad, Benjamin Gilman Scholarship, and Fulbright Fellowship program to work with and advocate for these populations in Kenya and Uganda through the Refugee Coalition of East Africa. This summer, he will return to Kenya to work with HealthRight International, an organization that leverages global resources to address local health challenges and create sustainable solutions for highly marginalized communities such as LGBTI individuals and migrants. He looks forward to continuing his work of reducing stigma and improving health conditions.


Robin Jones

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Fellowship Location: Lebanon

Robin is pursuing a master’s in Near Eastern studies at the Hagop Kevorkian Center in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His research interests center on the Syrian revolution, human rights discourse, and postcolonial and left-wing critiques of this discourse. His interest in Syria emerged from his activism with the Palestine solidarity movement and from his experience working for various organizations focused on Palestinian affairs. Robin will spend his summer in Beirut with Al-Jumhuriya, a media collective founded by Syrian writers and intellectuals as a platform to address various facets of the Syrian revolution and war. Robin has published writing about Middle Eastern politics in The Electronic Intifada and The New Arab, and during his time at Al-Jumhuriya, he hopes to build on this experience and help advance the organization’s English-language platform. He also hopes to improve his colloquial Levantine Arabic and to explore avenues for future ethnographic research on the disconnect between the promises of a liberal rights-based order and its failure to prevent atrocities in Syria.


Judy Luo

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Fellowship Location: Dominican Republic
El Centro para la Observación Migratoria y el Desarrollo en el Caribe (OBMICA)

Judy is a junior at Gallatin concentrating in carceral studies with a minor in philosophy. She has had experience working both inside and outside the criminal justice system through her internship at Brooklyn Defender Services and through grassroots organizing with Survived and Punished. A passionate prison abolitionist, she asks herself if it is possible to straddle both worlds in her future work. For her fellowship project, she wishes to explore how the effects of carceral violence transcend national borders. Over the summer, she will work with El Centro para la Observación Migratoria y el Desarrollo en el Caribe (OBMICA), a think tank focused on advancing migrants’ rights and social development in the Dominican Republic. Judy will conduct a research project that explores the experiences of Dominican nationals who have been deported from the US due to a criminal record.


Rachael Mattson

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Fellowship Location: Senegal
Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)

Rachael is a Gallatin master’s student pursuing a concentration in political ecology of urban infrastructures, nature-society relations, and development studies. Drawing from her internship and research experience with ENDA Energy in Senegal, her current internship with NYU’s Discard Studies Collaborative and volunteer work with Sure We Can, and her interdisciplinary studies in the informal economies of waste picking, Rachael will intern this summer in Senegal with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), a global action-research-policy network focused on improving the status of informal workers. Rachael will study how female pickers’ work is reconfigured through the planning and upgrade of Dakar’s Mbeubeuss dump, paying particular attention to how their human and labor rights are negotiated. She will also explore in depth their advocacy efforts to improve these rights. She hopes this experience will feed into a more inclusive approach and contribute to advocacy efforts already underway.


Jenna Mote

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Fellowship Location: Myanmar

Jenna is an MPH candidate at the College of Global Public Health, pursuing a concentration in epidemiology. She is interested in studying various aspects of health inequity in vulnerable populations and developing solutions through practice-based research and analysis. In her first semester at NYU, she worked with the Applied Global Public Health Initiative and UNICEF studying ways to improve parental behaviors for optimal early childhood development in the first 1,000 days of life for children in Myanmar. This summer, she will travel to Myanmar to work with UNICEF’s field office to assess population needs, resources, and capacities that affect the health and wellbeing of Myanmar’s communities in a variety of ways. Passionate about the unique set of barriers children in these communities face in attempting to lead a productive and healthy life, Jenna hopes to better understand how to advocate for the quarter of them who do not reach their first birthday.


Ayman Mukerji

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Fellowship Location: USA (New York)
Sakhi for South Asian Women

Ayman is an MSW student at the Silver School of Social Work who uses mindfulness-based therapy for her clients. She has worked with several nonprofit organizations helping a range of underserved populations, including inner city school children, battered women, and children in India born to prostitutes. During these experiences, she came to realize that while mindfulness has the power to change lives, many people cannot avail of its benefits in the absence of social change. Sakhi, which will host Ayman this summer in New York, has as its mission to eradicate domestic violence against South Asian women. Current US immigration policies jeopardize the asylum that was once available to domestic violence victims, and as a survivor herself, Ayman plans to empower and bring about social justice for victims of domestic violence. She will assist Sakhi with implementing a policy and advocacy agenda and a proactive advocacy activation plan, will help deepen its collaborations with like-minded organizations, and will help steer it towards being a survivor-led, survivor-centered organization.


Sean Oh

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Fellowship Location: USA (Los Angeles)
Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project

Sean is a junior at Gallatin studying international law and long-term nation development, concentrating on international organizations and how they can be used for global cooperative success. He has studied abroad at NYU Prague, NYU Shanghai, and Seoul University. At each of these locations, he studied the cultural context, narrative, and political climate of the local region. For his fellowship, he plans to work in Los Angeles with Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, an organization that supports undocumented immigrants. Sean will examine immigrant rights, particularly surrounding immigrants from Latin America, to develop better cultural understanding and to bridge intersectionalities between immigrant experiences. He also hopes to assist in particular with legally representing undocumented children in court.


Viktoria Pashtriku

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Fellowship Location: Kosovo
Women's Association Medica Gjakova

Viktoria is a graduate student at Gallatin, where she is studying the collective memories of post-conflict regions, focusing on women's narratives of wartime sexual violence in the postwar-Kosovo film industry. She is particularly interested in discovering what prompts marginalized and silenced voices in society to break into the collective narrative and challenge it. This summer, Viktoria will be hosted by the Women's Association Medica Gjakova, an organization that supports survivors of wartime sexual violence. Viktoria will use her background in communications and development at nonprofit organizations to contribute to campaigns encouraging Kosovo's public to openly discuss sexual violence. She will also advocate for polices that support and protect survivors. Through this experience, she hopes to contribute to the global #MeToo movement by demanding action and social change.


Sophie Walker

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Fellowship Location: USA (New York)
Court Watch NYC

Sophie is a junior at Gallatin studying writing in conjunction with social and cultural analysis, with a minor in disability studies. She will intern this summer with the New York City-based Court Watch NYC. An organizing and reporting project modeled after other court-watching projects around the country, Court Watch NYC collaborates with the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, 5 Boro Defenders, and VOCAL-NY and aims to make courtrooms and court proceedings more accessible and transparent for everyday New Yorkers. It fosters a consistent presence of New Yorkers in courtrooms during arraignments throughout the city, collects and publishes data, and highlights alternative narratives that are not captured in court transcripts or that are not easily accessible to the public. Court Watch NYC also works toward ending mass incarceration and holding elected officials accountable. While each day this summer will probably look different, Sophie anticipates spending plenty of time at arraignments, compiling data and taking notes.