Princeton seniors Chisom Ilogu ’21, Sarah Kamanzi ’21, Leopoldo Solis ’21, and Lydia Spencer ’21 have been awarded the Henry Richardson Labouisse ’26 Prize.
The prize, which grants each recipient $30,000 to pursue international civic engagement projects in the year following graduation, is administered by the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS).
According to the University release, the prize “enables graduating seniors to engage in a project that exemplifies the life and work of Henry Richardson Labouisse.” An alumnus of the Class of 1926, Labouisse was a “diplomat, international public servant, and champion for the causes of international justice and international development.”
Emmanuel Kreike, Professor of History and Chair of the Labouisse Selection Committee, told The Daily Princetonian that the fellowship was instituted by Labouisse’s daughter and family to honor his commitment to global health, safety, and equity.
“In that vein, we ask from our fellows that they use Henry Labouisse as a model for designing and executing a project that in its own way in some modest (or less modest) way contributes to making this world a better place,” Kreike wrote.
This year’s prize recipients expressed excitement about the projects they plan to undertake over the next year.
“I was overjoyed,” Kamanzi wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “I spent a significant amount of time and effort writing, interview prepping, and waiting. This was truly the most important project I wanted to dedicate my time to, post-graduation and also an avenue I intend to pursue as a career.”
Each recipient will pursue a unique and largely personal project following the year after their graduation.
Ilogu is a senior in the history department and will earn certificates in African studies and journalism. Her project is focused on the legacy and influence of FESTAC ’77.
“It was a massive arts and culture festival held in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977, and brought together the Black/African world like no event before, and no event since,” Ilogu explained. “But the festival has quite a complicated legacy, and suffers from some erasure as well.”
Ilogu will work on building a digital exhibition and archive around the event, and will assist the Lagos-based art platform SMO Contemporary with their efforts to create an in-person exhibition.
“I really want FESTAC to become common knowledge for members of the Black diaspora and the African world,” she wrote. “So many movements today can be traced back to major Pan-African summits like FESTAC ’77, thus making it essential to better understand all the triumphs, and failings, of FESTAC so we can better understand this current moment.”
Kamanzi is a senior in the French and Italian department and is earning a certificate in African studies. Her project will center on telling the stories of people who come from low-income backgrounds but have acquired socio-economic and passport privileges, and she will partner with Iriba Art Center in Kigali, Rwanda.
“I am going to write the stories of the burdens we carry for the sake of an American education and the socio-economic benefits it grants us,” Kamanzi wrote. “I want to explore the decisions, doubts, failures, mistakes, mishaps, losses; that make us feel like we are living multiple lives at once.”
Kamanzi emphasized the importance of her project’s focus on representation, and how she hopes to use her time to collate the experiences of her peers and communities into a script, and eventually a mini web series, which she likened to the HBO show “Insecure” by Issa Rae.
“Like many other continental African international and maybe also Black people across the diaspora, representation matters,” she added. “And when done well, it is an instrument that galvanizes and affects radical and positive transformational change.”
Solis is a senior in the history department and earning a certificate in Latin American studies. He is interested in “the history of border creation, histories of marginalized groups and their resistance to/in modern nation-states, with a particular eye towards those in Latin America and/or involving Latinxs.”
Solis’ project will involve spending a year abroad in Veracruz, Mexico, among a Nahuatl-speaking community. He will be offering English language courses to the community while using the funds from the award to establish computer and internet access.
He hopes to be able to communicate fluently in Nahuatl and emphasized that he sees the aim of his project as not just teaching, but as an exchange of knowledge between himself and the community.
“I know that the knowledge, language, and culture that people in the community will share with me will make my own contributions pale in comparison, but my long-term goal is to contribute something long-lasting to the community I will be working alongside,” Solis wrote.
Spencer is a Spanish and Portuguese concentrator from Cleveland, Ohio. She will be interning with the Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender (Anis) in Brasília, Brazil, working to scale up an initiative aiming to research and combat gender-based violence in Brazil.
“For this project, I will assist Anis in analyzing data on gender violence in at least 10 Brazilian states, crafting legislative and legal recommendations, proposing improvements to anti-violence campaigns, and considering lessons from COVID-19,” Spencer wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’
“Besides my main project, I will also co-author articles for Anis’ online human rights forum and help translate legal summaries,” she added.
Spencer explained how her interest in pursuing this project began with a course she took this past semester: LAS 308: Heath, Education and Work in Latin America, taught by Marcelo Medeiros, a University of Brasília professor and policy expert who is a visiting professor in the University’s program in Latin American studies.
“Our class discussions about gender inequality and how it interacts with other forms of injustice and inequality (particularly economic and racial) stood out to me, especially in light of my independent work related to feminist campaigns in Latin America,” Spencer wrote.
Spencer said she looks forward to working with multidisciplinary professionals who pursue numerous avenues to advance human rights in Latin America and beyond. She added that considering lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic will be an important part of the report, especially given evidence that gender-based violence in Latin America has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.