As is typical, our Hart Fellows' research projects and lives abroad have shifted from their initial expectations. Here are some updates from their lives and work.
Tuberculosis in Roma population
Scott Boisvert, from Chandler, Arizona, graduated with a double major in Biology and Global Health in May 2015, and was a Robertson Scholar at Duke. As a Hart Fellow, Scott has been interested in understanding health disparities in Roma communities in Eastern Europe. Scott’s Hart Fellowship was based in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he worked with the Ethnic Minorities Health Problems Foundation. He designed a survey to discover the extent to which people in Roma communities understand the causes and treatment options for tuberculosis. His goal was to find ways his organization and other public health organizations can best combat the spread of the disease.
Scott Boisvert is working with the Ethnic Minorities Health Problems Foundation in Sofia, Bulgaria on a study that will assess the prevalence of tuberculosis in the Roma population. He has collaborated with his community partner on the initial design of a survey, and will work with local interpreters and the Roma health mediator network to disseminate the survey in several Roma communities.
Mastatal, Costa Rica
Sustainable agriculture practices
Anne Martin, from Bettendorf, Iowa, graduated with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy in May 2015. At Duke, Anne was involved with issues related to sustainable agriculture, food security, and global health throughout her college career. She led Food for Thought, a student organization committed to improving access to local, organic, ecologically-sustainable, fair, and humane food on Duke’s campus. For her Hart Fellowship, she partnered with Villas Mastatal, a family-owned farm in Costa Rica, to study the barriers to sustainable agriculture production. She interviewed a diverse array of small-scale producers, farmers, fishers, large-scale farm managers and market owners to create an ethnography of agricultural production in Costa Rica.
Anne Martin is partnering with Villas Mastatal, a family-owned farm in Mastatal, Costa Rica to study sustainable agriculture practices. Anne has already seen that the vast majority of Costa Rica’s agriculture production comes from large, conventionally farmed plantations. Her qualitative research methods—including interviews with smaller scale organic farmers, will be guided by the core question of her project, “What are the major barriers to small-scale, diversified and organic agriculture in Costa Rica?” Watch her video diary below.
Teach for Nepal (TFN)
Laxmi Rajak, from Bhaktapur, Nepal, graduated from Duke with a double major in International Comparative Studies and Mathematics with a minor in Education in May 2015. Driven by her background growing up as a lower caste member in Nepal, and her passion for educational equity, Laxmi worked with Teach for Nepal in the summer after her junior year to research the school experiences of lower caste Nepali children, and that became the basis of her honors thesis. Laxmi returned to Teach for Nepal for her Hart Fellowship, where she has expanded upon her initial study to investigate the ways caste, gender, family income and family education impact the lives of students in Teach for Nepal classes.
Laxmi Rajak is conducting her research with Teach for Nepal (TFN), a nonprofit organization that provides recent graduates with two-year teaching fellowships at public schools, in Kathmandu, Nepal. Her research project focuses on the student experience in the classrooms of TFN fellows, with a focus on how issues of caste, gender, family income and family education impact the quality of the learning experience for students. Her research will include both qualitative and quantitative approaches, including school visits, written surveys, individual interviews, and an examination of school attendance records and exam records.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Housing policies in favelas
David Robertson, from Fairfax, Virginia, graduated from Duke with a major in Public Policy and a minor in Economics in May 2015. He is passionate about urban development, social justice, international relations and entrepreneurship. The Hart Fellowship has taken David to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he was worked with a non-governmental organization called Catalytic Communities. The organization focuses on changing the narratives in the media around favelas, as well as providing support for communities to increase participatory urban planning efforts, and take control of their communities. He has interviewed favela residents and academics to explore policy solutions for improving public housing in Rio de Janeiro for his research project.
David Robertson worked with Catalytic Communities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His research project centered on urban planning policies regarding favelas – relatively underserved urban areas that were originally formed as squatter settlements. He interviewed favela leaders and residents as well as civic and academic leaders about their views on Brazil’s housing policies. As part of his work, he has published many articles in RioOnWatch, a community reporting newspaper that brings visibility to favela community voices especially in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics.