JRF Scholar Profile: 3 Scholars Study Abroad

July 12, 2015 - RRIF, Scholars

Juniors Rashaun Bennett, a Political Science and Economics major at Davidson College in North Carolina, Cinneah El-Amin, an Africana Studies and English major at Barnard College in New York, and senior Brittany Ayana Thomas, a Public Health Studies major at Johns Hopkins University, are spending this semester studying abroad through the SIT Study Abroad program. Rashaun and Cinneah have traveled betweenBrazil, South Africa and Vietnam, while Brittany, who was in Bangladesh this past summer, is based in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil for the semester.

Rashaun is in the International Honors program entitled People, Planning and Politics. Originally from Charlotte, NC, Rashaun interned in current U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx’s office when Foxx was Mayor of Charlotte and with the Deputy Superintendent of Schools in his hometown. He plans to attend law school upon graduating college, and wants to improve access and sustainability of education in the country. He is a JRF/LaTroy Hawkins & Family Scholar.

“In the past three months I have traveled to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cape Town, South Africa and Hanoi, Vietnam to examine how cities can be a means of innovation and progress as well as places for the continuation of oppression and inequities,” said Rashaun. “Through my program’s emphasis on comparing methods of social justice and reconciliation, I am reminded of my duty to support underserved communities. Through participating in SIT International Honors Program and the Clinton International Summer School in Northern Ireland – made possible through JRF – I have been able to gain a deeper understanding of comparable ways that conflict is resolved, inequalities are manifested and reconciliation and progress are pursued. My time abroad has also surrounded me a wealth of knowledge from an amazing group of peers.”

Brittany is no stranger to study-abroad. While at college, she has traveled to Uganda, Bangladesh, Northern Ireland and now Brazil. She participated in the Childhood Health and Society in Uganda Program with the Johns Hopkins University Public Health Studies Undergraduate Program and was selected by JRF to participate in the Clinton Centre for International Peace Summer School in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. Last summer, Brittany traveled to Bangladesh and made a true impact. You may have read about that experience on our Facebook page.

Brittany will earn a bachelor degree in public health. She is interested in gaining further experience in conflict resolution by volunteering at the Shalom Centre for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) in Parklands, Kenya. She hopes to complete an 8-month Fulbright Academic Grant in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, exploring the intersection of gender empowerment, sanitation, and art by documenting the ongoing efforts to empower women in the male-dominated field of informal waste collection. Brittany then plans to pursue a PhD – exploring water and sanitation, peace studies, and conflict resolution. She would like to be an Officer in the Foreign Service of the United States Department of State. Brittany is a JRF/GE Foundation Scholar.

“My semester in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil in the School for International Training Study Abroad Public Health, Race, and Human Rights Program has been an exercise in testing my limits and believing in myself,” said Brittany. “I started learning Brazilian Portuguese a year ago after being inspired by multilingual peers that I met as a JRF Rachel Robinson International Fellow in the Clinton Centre for International Peace in Northern Ireland. I am proud to extend my journey in Portuguese and international health this semester as I live with Bahian families, develop friendships, and complete a research project on community organizations giving assistance to the homeless population in Salvador.”

Cinneah is traveling to Sao Paulo, Brazil, Cape Town, South Africa, and Hanoi, Vietnam as part of the International Honors Program entitled Cities in the 21st Century. From Baltimore, MD, Cinneah interned with New Lens Production Company as a Community Liaison, working on public relations, outreach strategies and assisting with production on several documentaries. She plans to enroll in a Master’s program and then wants to work in the nonprofit sector with a focus on youth advocacy, community employment, poverty alleviation or gender equality. Cinneah is a JRF/Major League Baseball Scholar.

“I’ve enjoyed a truly extraordinary study abroad experience this semester. Although I’ve had many incredible experiences, I am most proud of my community service involvement,” said Cinneah. “After visiting an informal settlement in São Paulo where residents have been forced to give up their land, the community’s leaders and I mobilized students to bring attention to some of the community’s problems by writing letters to the municipal government and sharing stories through social media.”


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