Kévin Irakóze is an international student from Burundi studying Philosophy in the University of Chicago Humanities Division. He will use the grant for his project Social and Academic Integration for Visually Disabled Youth. This project aims to promote peace in Gitega, Burundi by empowering visually disabled youth and addressing the stigma experienced by these young people through community engagement, social support, and through the formal educational system. The country of Burundi has only three schools for the visually disabled, all of which formally end at the conclusion of elementary school. Children who finish this foundational education have meager options and are left to the life-long care of their families. The vision of this project is to brighten the prospects of the students both in terms of classroom development and a sense of social belonging. Whereas they currently experience a marginalizing shortage of support (material and social), the contribution of the project is to empower them with the hitherto needed support. The project will have a lasting and sustainable impact on the students, the school, and the community.
Sarath Pillai is a Ralph W. Nicholas Fellow and international student from India studying History in the University of Chicago Social Sciences Division. He will use the grant for his project Hungarian Romani Youth Empowerment through Sport. This project will support an institutional upgrade of the Dr. Ambedkar High School in Miskolc, Hungary, amplifying its mission to foster Romani and non-Romani youth social integration and cultural exchange. This unique institution, founded in 2007, enrolls approximately 90 students each year, primarily of Romani ethnicity, from across northeastern Hungary and eastern Slovakia, in communities where high school completion is often lower than 1%. Funds from this grant will support the development of recreation spaces and sports facilities of the school and its affiliated residential hall, the Martin Luther King Dorm. During a four-week development phase, Sarath will work with the local NGO KultúrAktív to run sessions with Ambedkar teachers to discuss how these facilities can be incorporated into curricular and extracurricular activities. This project will strengthen the school’s position as a dynamic, transnational site of Romani youth empowerment and interethnic exchange for years to come.