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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students Crossing Boundaries creates fellowship program

Published: October 3, 2008
Section: Front Page

Following their trip to Israel and the West Bank last February, Students Crossing Boundaries will release an application for their revamped program Tuesday.

Last year, 11 students, including Students Crossing Boundaries founder Justin Kang ’09, went on a 10-day trip over February break to various sites throughout Israel and the West Bank in order to gain a better understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The trip was sponsored by a $25,000 grant from the Carter Center.

Controversy swirled around SCB last year, particularly because of its funding source. However, despite another $25,000 grant from the Carter Center, “the university is much more receptive [to SCB] than last year,” Kang said. Releasing the application is “a lot less dramatic and secretive,” he added.

This year, SCB has expanded and reorganized the program. Instead of sending 11 students on a 10-day trip, students will apply for summer fellowships.

Five students will be selected to spend the summer working and studying in Israel or the Palestinian territories and another five students will be selected to work and study in the major immigration center of El Paso, Texas and Cuidad Juarez, Mexico.

The students traveling to the Middle East will receive a $4,000 stipend made possible by funding from the Carter Center. Students traveling to Texas and Mexico will be funded through other grant opportunities at Brandeis.

“The format has vastly changed from last year,” Kang explained. “Last year’s experience was absolutely valuable but we wanted to make it more thorough.”

For the program’s second year, the format “is similar to the Ethics Fellows model. [Students are] going to find their own internships,” Program Director Feya Hillel ’10 explained.

This way, students will be able to pick an internship that focuses on an area of particular interest to them such as “environmental issues and women’s rights issues” as they pertain to the particular area of conflict, Program Director Adriel Orozco ’10 said.

“We always want to leave it open to [students],” he added, “we want to take them to these areas but have them experience it through their own vision.”

While each student will have a separate internship, Hillel emphasized the importance of a “group dimension.”

Students will work separately during the summer but then come together to give a more complete picture of the area of conflict, Kang explained.

After the summer is over, the participants will then bring “their experience back to Brandeis,” Hillel said. “This is really important to us – immigration and [the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] is central to campus.”

Orozco added, “we want them to express their experience how they want…to showcase what SCB is on campus.”

Kang, Orozco, and Hillel hope the SCB experience will extend beyond this year.

“The long term vision is to have students going to different areas of conflict every year,” Hillel said.

Kang added, “I’m thinking about replicating this model on different campuses.”