This summer, SGPIA and the International Field Program office launched a Correspondents program! The premise is simple – a student participating in each IFP and Studio field site has been selected to be the eyes and ears on the ground, reporting back to SGPIA in the form of blog posts, photo essays, or multi-media posts about their experience. Each summer, students conduct independent research, contribute to the vital work of local non-profits, NGOs and government agencies, all the while gaining invaluable international experience. The IFP and Studio programs, unique to SGPIA, ensure that our graduates get a taste of international fieldwork, navigate cross-cultural cooperation, and even build some solid language skills. This summer, students are living, working, and learning in Argentina, the Balkans, Colombia, Cuba, Ethiopia, and South Africa. The Correspondents program allows the SGPIA community back at home, or off on their own summer adventures, to keep up with the program and learn about the work being done.
For example, students in Argentina are conducting independent research while also working on a group project. Correspondent Ismelka Gomez is focusing her research on the abortion legalization campaign, which reached a fever pitch earlier this June when a national referendum showed public support for legalized abortion. Her second post took us inside a manifestacion in favor of legalization, a celebration of food, dancing, and politics.
Emma Pulido and Derek Schiavone from the Migration Studio in the Balkans spent June in Lesvos, Greece conducting independent research and assisting in a Greek law office. Focusing on security forces and mental health care services respectively, the two wrote reflections on what it means to research in the midst of a sustained humanitarian “emergency”. Emma pointed out the importance of multi-faceted understanding, and Derek takes the reader along for a day of field visits and interviews.
In Huila, Colombia, Elena Teare is part of a team working on projects surrounding coffee and cooperativism. Her project, in collaboration with her classmate Megan, focuses on female farmers. The duo is using a participatory action research methodology called Photovoice. Curious about this method? Learn more in her first post. After her initial research, she penned this thoughtful reflection on empowerment, cultural relativism, and exchange.
Meanwhile in Cuba, Correspondents Sabrina Wu and Peyton Watson chose a more visual medium to share with us. Sabrina created a series of photo poems, blending her observations about her surroundings and classmates with images of life in La Habana. Peyton, who is in Cuba to study ecological sustainability intersecting with communist ideology, shared a series of images – with a heavy emphasis on four legged friends.
Sofia Silveira in spending her summer in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A native of São Paulo, Brasil, Sofia shares her sharp observations on colonial legacy and urban poverty, while pointing out the connections and fissures between Addis and her home city. She critically assesses her own views of her host country in her study of underdevelopment in the local business landscape.
Finally, Gretchen Gruenberg is reporting from Cape Town, South Africa! The Cape Town group is working with Slum Dwellers International amidst a severe water crisis in this major city. From discovering the uses of grey water to learning about urban resilience efforts in Cape Town and Monrovia, the team is keeping busy. To engage with the local community, the students are attending community meetings in the township Gugulethu. Gretchen wrote about the meeting in depth, explaining the issue at hand: a deal the community struck with the local province in return for housing subsidies.
SGPIA and IFP students have been keeping busy this past month – and most programs are only halfway through. Keep checking on The New Context to read more insights about their experiences – and learn a little something along the way. You can follow along on Instagram for more frequent updates.