Julia Neubauer '07 and Tanya DeMello GS were awarded the University's International Service Award at a ceremony Monday in front of McCormick Hall attended by family, friends, professors and advisers.
The International Service Award honors a University student or a group of students who have "demonstrated extraordinary efforts to bring about cross-cultural humanitarian endeavors locally or in other parts of the world," according to the International Center's website.
"They were quite extraordinary in their services in a very cross-cultural way," Paula Chow, director of the International Center, said in an interview. The award is usually given to one student, but "they were just so phenomenally good, we couldn't decide [between the] two."
Neubauer was recognized for her work with street children in Pune, India. Neubauer, along with Elizabeth Sholtys, a student at Emory University, and Kaminikia Morjaria, a student at McGill University, attended the United World College in India. While there, they worked at an orphanage in Pune. "We volunteered for about three years and got really really close to some of the children," Neubauer said.
After the three left for their respective colleges, Sholtys suggested creating a new NGO to provide housing, food, schooling and a family environment for a small group of street children.
The Ashraya Initiative for Children received official NGO status from the United States in November 2005. It currently houses 11 kids, who range in age from six to 14, speak up to four languages and are also enrolled in a local school. Two board members share the responsibility of being at the house throughout the year, along with a full-time caretaker.
"Within two years' time, they were able to get the money and ... have 11 children whose guardianship they have to take on," Chow noted. "Now that in itself, for a junior to be able to do while at Princeton, is phenomenal. This is the reason we chose her."
"We put a lot of emphasis on individuality within this family that we have," Neubauer said. "We want to make this spread. We're not counting on the kids to lead the home or anything but I'm sure at some point that one or two of them will end up doing something like that."
Helping the needy
DeMello, a graduate student in the Wilson School, created the Woodrow Wilson Workers, an organization that provides graduate students with onetime volunteering opportunities to expose them to local service projects.
"I really believe that if we're going to be making public policies for people in our community, I don't think you can make those policies if you don't know the people you're making them for," DeMello explained.
"This is something that was never done before," Chow said. "By doing so, she has exposed quite a few graduate students at the Woodrow Wilson School to supplement what they understand as policy planning. They can see what kind of policy they should suggest."
DeMello also organized relief trips to New Orleans over fall break and to Kashmir over spring break to help with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan.
Her passion for emergency relief has spilled over into her future plans. "I really want to work in human rights," she said. "I see myself working in emergency relief, food distribution and security for refugee populations."
DeMello said one of the reasons she became interested in service was because her mother grew up poor. "I grew up poor but not the way my mom did," she said. "I'm lucky to have what I have. I really feel that it is incumbent on me to help [the poor] in a way."
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.