Excitement filled the air as a group of 20 Grinnell students and four faculty and staff members set out for the Human Rights and International Relations Tour during spring break. The trip was co-sponsored by the Rosenfield Program; the Center for Careers, Life, and Service; and the Development and Alumni Relations Office.
To start off, the group met with Sarah Labowitz ’04, who used to work for the State Department, and is now a research scholar and directs the program on business and human rights at NYU Stern School of Business. Sarah has worked on issues of business and human rights for almost a decade, with expertise in the areas of labor rights in supply chains and Internet policy. The students had conversation with Sarah and Professor Michael Posner, former Assistant Secretary of State, over lunch. Catalina Caro Torres hosted the group at the Council on Foreign Relations for a student briefing. Networking skills were put to use during the evening reception with New York alumni and President Kington at the Rubin Museum of Art.
The second day in New York City began at the New York Times with a tour with Roberta Smith ’69, art critic. The students then had the opportunity to meet with reporters Michael Winerip and Michael Schwirz who are collaborating on an investigative series about police brutality at Rikers Island. Damien Cave, deputy national editor for digital at the Times. At Human Rights Watch, Paul Aufiero spoke with the group about the work of the organization and then the group headed to the Center for Constitutional Rights for a presentation from Executive Director Vince Warren and a meeting with Leonard Kurz ’75 and other alums.
The excitement continued on day three as the group traveled to Queens to meet with Luna Ranjit ’00 at Adhikaar. With a donation from a Grinnell professor, Luna began Adhikaar in 2005 to improve the lives of Nepali-speaking communities, and her group has had great success in advocating for civil rights. Episcopal Relief and Development was the next stop, where Katie Mears ’03 shared about the work of this international organization working to overcome poverty. The day ended at Alliance Berstain L.P. where Ahsan Rahim ’11 hosted a pizza dinner with the New York Alumni Planning Committee.
Day four began with a briefing at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations with Liz Lee ’99, a foreign service officer assigned to the mission. The students were captivated by the experiences she shared. The group then split up for a few hours: some of them opted to go see Ground Zero, others enjoyed some shopping at Chelsea Market and a stroll at Highline Park. The afternoon started off with a tour of the United Nations and ended in Jersey City at Forbes Magazine. Liyan Chen ’12 arranged for the aspiring students to meet with several editors and reporters for the magazine, where she works as a reporter covering international issues.
Sarah Purcell, Director of the Rosenfield Program, says: “We were so excited to share with students so many fascinating and important organizations and individuals. We got an inside look at human rights and international work, and our entire visit to New York was so energizing.”
Student trip participants were Lilianna Bagnoli ’15, Chantelle Dallas ’15, Silvia Foster-Frau ‘15, Stephen Gruber-Miller ‘15, Gwendolyn Ihrie ’15, Iulia Iordache ’15, Liesl Schnabel ’15, Tefiro Serunjogi ’15, Louisa Silverman ’15, Danielle Chorne ’16, Colleen Moser ’16, Paige Wheeler ’16, Andino Isaac ’17, Annie Casey ’17, Teodora Cakarmis ’17, Desiree Dos Santos da Mota ’17, Armando ’17, and Sebastian Rivera ’18. Student trip leaders were Roni Finkelstein ’15 and Anesu Gamanya ’15. Faculty trip leaders were Sarah Purcell, Professor of History and Director of the Rosenfield Program; and Ed Cohn, Assistant Professor of History and Interim Director of the Rosenfield Program. Staff leaders were Nate Dobbels, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Career Programs; and Laureen Van Wyk, Rosenfield Program Coordinator.