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ECSF Recipients “Remember Africa”

Published: November 2, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.


The Abraham Shapiro Academic Complex was abuzz last Friday afternoon, as students, alumni, faculty, administration, and parents mingled over the mellow rhythms of African music.

As part of its 10th Anniversary celebrations, the International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life invited back Ethics Center Student Fellowship Alumni to recount their experiences in South Africa during Africa Remembered.

Ethics Center Student Fellowships (ECSF) provide sophomores and juniors $3500 with which to complete a summer internship in issues of international importance anywhere in the world.

ECSF recipients must first complete a related course in their Spring semester prior to leaving and another course the following Fall with other Fellows.

Three former Fellows, two of whom were alumni returning to their alma mater, shared the memories of their internships. Brahmy Poologasingham, 00, a lawyer in Seattle, began her internship soon after the end of apartheid during the presidency of Nelson Mandela.

Poologasingham worked with three NGOs during her time in South Africa. Under NOVA she worked to improve environmental conditions in Mpumalanga, a rural province.

Through the Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg, she was able to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Poologasingham even looked at drafts for South Africas new constitution under the National Institute for Public Interest Law and Research, NIPILAR.

Darnisa Amante, 06 provided a more recent look at South Africa. Like Poologasingham, Amante spoke of ubuntu, a South African concept based on the existence of an inherent nature in everyone that creates a universal bond through all of humanity.

Amante shared a personal anecdote in which her grandmother asked the flight attendant to make sure she remained safe in South Africa. The flight attendant replied that Amante was now her sister and therefore her responsibilty.

Coincidentally, this flight attendant was on Amantes return trip as well. When asked if she had stayed safe during her time in South Africa, Amante answered that she was safe, but changed.

Naomi Safran-Hon, 08 helped in implementing art projects for orphans. One such project involved providing the children with disposable Kodak cameras.

These children had never been exposed to cameras or even seen pictures. Such art therapy allowed for a degree of freedom of expression. The students were provided an outlet for individual artistic expression. Later this year, Safran-Hon will be the first Brandeis student to hold an exhibition in the Womens Studies Research Center.

The event included a performance from Brandeis own African Dance Club who gave a heart-thumping performance to the strong beats of a drum.

The Brandeis Playback Society also performed. They used the audiences reactions and emotions to the event and interpreted them in a dramatic manner.

Africa Remembered provided various views of South Africa through the students perspectives. The presentations left us inspired to better the world in which we live.

Poologasingham summed up her experience by saying, you can make a difference in the world, in a way thats lastingyou can make a difference in peoples lives.