Two win Critical Language Scholarships from U.S. State Department
Alireza Mohammadi ’22 and Camila Adrianzén Yndigoyen ’23 have been awarded $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grants to promote peace through education and community building in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Lima, Peru, this summer.
Mohammadi, along with his project partner Mustaq Wahidy, a student at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, will use the 2021 Davis grant to start a library and technology center and mentorship program for underprivileged children in Kabul in an effort to reduce child labor and improve access to educational resources.
Adrianzén Yndigoyen’s project, “Me Fui,” seeks to create stronger connections between the local Peruvian community and the Venezuelan migrant community in Lima. Adrianzén Yndigoyen earned her Davis grant in 2020 and had originally planned to complete her project last summer, but it was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mohammadi and Wahidy, both born in Afghanistan, are the founders of the Youth’s Mirror Social Association (YMSA), a nonprofit that aims to improve the lives of people in Kabul through education and empowerment.
“Four decades of war has crippled the educational system in Afghanistan. Conflict, family situations, rural-to-urban drift, and lack of economic and educational opportunity have all kept children away from school,” Mohammadi said. “This project will create an innovative environment to foster creativity, literacy and lifelong learning, and to connect children with the arts, technology, and with each other.”
Mohammadi is a quantitative economics and econometrics major and finance and computer science double minor at Conn. He and Wahidy will purchase computers, a printer, a portable generator, furniture and more than 350 books focused on humanity, history, children’s literature, geography and technology for the library. They will also conduct a book donation campaign and, following the completion of the library, launch a mentorship program for 50 public school children who will meet with mentors from Kabul universities three times a week. Mohammadi and Wahidy will work with YMSA representatives who are in Kabul and supervise the project virtually.
“This project is important to me because it will allow me to make a difference in the lives of those underprivileged children who are eager to learn but don't have access to fundamental educational resources,” Mohammadi said.
Adrianzén Yndigoyen, an international student from Lima, is an education major, Latin American studies minor, and scholar in the Holleran Center for Community Action, as well as a co-coordinator for The Agnes Gund ’60 Dialogue Project, and a research assistant for Professor of Hispanic Studies Luis González Gonzales.
She is in the process of adapting her project due to the pandemic, but will be working this summer in partnership with TECHO Perú, a Latin American youth-led organization that fights poverty in economically distressed communities. Adrianzén Yndigoyen, who volunteered at TECHO for three years, will supervise the project virtually.