Sophomore wins fellowship to study abroad in Uganda
A self-described "army brat" and the sibling of a soldier in Afghanistan, Saint Michael's sophomore, Kirsten Wilson is "extremely committed to learning the teachings of non-violence" and hopes to bring them to others. She plans to pursue that goal now with the support of the $2,500 Brian Lacey ’72 International Fellowship that she has been awarded. The grant will enable her to study the history of conflict within northern Uganda and Rwanda.
Ms. Wilson, a double major in English and anthropology, the daughter of Anna and David Wilson of West Burke, VT, graduated from Lyndon Institute before coming to Saint Michael's. Her program, run through SIT Study Abroad, will examine the human cost of conflict in northern Uganda and the ways local communities are fostering peace, economic development, and sustainable reconciliation.
The Brian Lacey International Fellowship in Social Justice is designed to encourage and honor Saint Michael's students who have demonstrated superior academic achievement as well as dedication to deeper understanding of issues of social justice.
Array of service projects
Ms. Wilson, an honors student, has involved herself in a remarkable number of volunteer and service activities, taking leadership roles in several. She became a mentor for a Somali Bantu youngster from Winooski who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya. Seeing what the child had been through was Ms. Wilson's awakening to a desire to fight for social justice. This led to her becoming coordinator of the International Outreach program that connects mentors to youngsters who need them.
She has since been tutoring refugee children after school and helping Burundians learn English. Her work in the Student Labor Action Movement has led her to help provide coffee hours for the college custodial staff. She personally organized a fund-raiser Skate for Schools: a 450-mile longboard trip around Vermont to benefit Africa ELI, a non-profit that builds schools in South Sudan, and thereby raised several thousand dollars for the project.
Ms. Wilson participated in an SMC service trip to Kentucky through the Christian Appalachian Project that meant she built an addition onto a mobile home for a family of six. And this summer, she is going on a service trip to Kolkata, India, to work in Mother Teresa’s orphanage.
Doing this work has led Ms. Wilson to see the value of advocacy in combination with service. Thus she has gotten heavily involved in the Dear Hillary Campaign for the Congo, a prominent Saint Michael's program dedicated to fighting for international political action in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
She has also found time to be involved in the campus interfaith community and to volunteer weekly at the Green Mountain Nursing Home.
Ms. Wilson sees her study in Uganda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa as a way of understanding and learning to share the teachings of non-violence.