Publication Date: May 13, 2015
Publication Location: WASHINGTON
Contact: Kathryn Schoenberger   |   [email protected]

World Learning congratulates Annie Weber, the newest recipient of the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship, which returns alumni of its undergraduate study abroad programs to their host countries to conduct human rights projects.

Weber, of Glen Arm, Md., is a senior at Gettysburg College majoring in sociology and a fall 2013 alumna of SIT Study Abroad’s Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation program. She will use her fellowship award to implement sexual health and well-being informational camps for young women between the ages of 10 and 16 living around Gulu in northern Uganda. In collaboration with Educate for Change, a local Ugandan youth-empowerment nonprofit, Weber plans to train local university students to lead these camps through a series of workshops. She hopes creating this peer-mentor relationship among girls will help continue the camps and knowledge sharing after her project ends.

“I believe this project will contribute and keep contributing to the good of Gulu’s young women by enabling them to achieve their full potential physically, mentally, and emotionally,” Weber said. Additionally, Weber plans to include non-school going young women to ensure that a wider population will be reached.

Sexual health and well-being education is almost nonexistent for young women in Uganda, especially in the war-affected northern districts. When they don’t receive an education in these areas it can lead to high school drop-out rates, poor academic performance and an overall lack of confidence. Participants will also receive reusable Ugandan-made AFRIpads feminine hygiene products from a local non-profit employing women from the surrounding communities. In addition to providing participants with critical information on female health, hygiene and sexual education, Weber hopes this project will teach girls ways to protect themselves from harmful cultural practices and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

“My interest in northern Uganda in particular started back in high school when I took a class about modern day genocides,” Weber said. “I started a group at my school, and started getting involved.” She added her mission is to liberate and motivate young Ugandan girls through education to become agents of change and to break the cycle of ignorance about their bodies in a sustainable way.

Weber will graduate from Gettysburg College in May with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. After her fellowship, she hopes to attend graduate school for social work.

The family of Alice Rowan Swanson created the fellowship as a living tribute to Alice, an Amherst College alumna who died in a 2008 bicycle accident in Washington, D.C. Rowan Swanson was inspired to work in international development and human rights following her SIT Study Abroad experience in Nicaragua in 2006.