Whitman senior receives Humanity in Action fellowship

May 7, 2010
Roberts

Annie Roberts ’10, a politics major from Los Altos, Calif., has won a Humanity in Action Fellowship that will take her to Denmark this summer.

Roberts is one of 44 American students chosen from more than 500 applicants to participate in the international program. She and other American and international fellows will spend the summer studying the histories and theories of resistance to abuse of minority populations, and the development of international human rights institutions and doctrines after World War II and the Holocaust.

HIA is an international educational organization that engages and sustains a network of students, young professionals and established leaders committed to protecting minorities and promoting human rights. This year HIA fellowship programs will be carried out in Denmark (Copenhagen), Germany (Berlin), The Netherlands (Amsterdam) and Poland (Warsaw).

“I am thrilled to participate in HIA’s exploration and discussion of contemporary human rights,” said Roberts. “I have taken advantage of many opportunities at Whitman to examine human rights locally and nationally, and I look forward to expanding my perspective in Copenhagen.  I am especially excited to conduct the outreach project that culminates the fellowship when I return to the United States. It will be a great opportunity to independently and creatively exercise the knowledge I gain in the program.”

Roberts plans to pursue a career in international law. During her study abroad in Buenos Aires last year, she attended classes at a law clinic and transcribed law documents as an intern at Ecumenical Support Services and Guidance for Migrants and Refugees. She also has worked as a Spanish translator at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto. 

During her time at Whitman, Roberts has volunteered at Blue Mountain Heart to Heart, a Walla Walla nonprofit providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS, and with Whitman’s mentor program. She also has participated in the ongoing “State of the State for Washington’s Latinos” project in Whitman’s politics department.

Each HIA fellowship program is divided into two phases. In the first phase, leaders of human rights organizations, politicians, diplomats, philanthropists, journalists, scholars, artists and authors meet with fellows for seminars, site visits and focus-group activities. The second phase involves research and writing. International teams of fellows focus on past and present minority issues in their host country, producing a written report.

Following the summer program, HIA Fellows complete an “action project” focused on human rights or minority issues that involves their home institutions or communities. Whitman senior Seth Bergeson ’10, an HIA recipient in 2008, recently brought the exhibition “Resistance and Rescue in Denmark” to the Whitman Sheehan Gallery and spoke about the Danish resistance and his own fellowship experience in Copenhagen.

“As we seek to move forward as historically minded global citizens, we must remember to view the Holocaust as one genocide in a series of genocides and the Danish rescue as one of many acts of resistance throughout history,” Bergeson notes.