Amid Anxiety, Human Rights Should be a Priority

Paras blog headshotPosted by John Gardner Fellow Paras Shah

December in midtown Manhattan brings tourists, holiday lights, and time with friends and family. The year’s final month also celebrates two important global human rights events: The International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, and Human Rights Day on December 10.

Recent events make us realize how important it is to include planning to meet the needs of  people with disabilities in emergency and conflict situations. And human rights as a concept has taken on particular meaning and urgency in the last few weeks.

In recognition of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Human Rights Watch issued a  news release on people with disabilities in conflict situations. Governments, donors, and aid agencies are overwhelmed with many competing priorities during emergencies. Yet it is  essential to make sure that the needs and concerns of people with disabilities are not lost in the shuffle Continue reading


Becoming More Intentional

danielle blogPosted by Gardner Fellow Danielle Puretz

On December 6, 2014 I wrote myself a letter as a closing exercise for the Global Poverty and Practice capstone course. I remember our discussion on the day we received the assignment: very few of the students in the class knew what they would be doing upon graduation, and among those that did, all were applying to grad school. I remember the professor passing out the sheets of blue paper, the black and yellow sketch of a tree I’d included with my letter and the smugness I felt at my idea to enclose a twenty dollar bill as a reminder from my past to present self that we have cause to celebrate.

In December of last year I did not know that come fall, I would be embarking on the John Gardner Fellowship, I did not know where I would be or what I would be doing and my biggest fear was that I would be “tired and stuck in a lease I can’t afford.” But beyond the evidence of chaos and confusion that was my life at the time, I asked myself some crucial questions, shared some personal insights and posed some exciting challenges. I dared myself to do things that scare me, shared the hope that I would be making art and writing for the sake of it, reminded myself to read and exercise my mind, wrote that “creative processes are opportunities for [us] to listen to [ourselves]” and incited a call to action telling myself to cultivate insatiability, never stop seeking inspiration, listening, learning and experimenting. Continue reading

Post-Secondary Education is Critical for the Formerly Incarcerated

Danny MurilloPosted by John Gardner Fellow Danny Murillo

It’s early Tuesday morning and I am on a flight to Detroit-Metro Airport. Due to weather conditions the flight is being delayed. As the plane sits on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport I am second guessing my participation in this trip. I am accompanying my colleagues Rebecca Silber and Sean Addie to Michigan to meet with our partners and students of the Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project. Thirty minutes have passed and the plane is still grounded. I am beginning to feel anxious. My anxiety is compounded as I think about the two prisons I will be entering; Parnall Correctional Facility (SMT) and Macomb Correctional Facility (MRF). This is my first time entering a prison facility since my release in 2010. I am concerned for my well-being, and I understand that my anxiety is linked to the trauma of incarceration.

Channeling the Spirit of Detroit, with my colleague Rebecca Silber.

Channeling the Spirit of Detroit, with my colleague Rebecca Silber.

Continue reading

Goodbye for Now, DC

Lucy headshot for blogPosted by Matsui Washington Fellow Lucy Song

I spent my last night in DC eating Ethiopian food with my intern friends, and the weather was mild enough for my friend and I to take a stroll around Embassy Row, the Potomac River, and Georgetown. Between saying goodbyes to friends, working on term papers, and wrapping up my internship, it wasn’t until my last day in DC when I realized how much I would miss being able to walk around the National Mall everyday, live a few blocks away from the White House, stop by the numerous Smithsonian museums at a moment’s notice, and immerse myself in the DC atmosphere. Continue reading

Part 4: This Is Only The Beginning

Ozi for blogPosted by Matsui Washington Fellow Ozi Emeziem

There is something oddly terrifying about becoming a ‘grown up.’

As a kid, I aspired to it.
It is access to an unknown world and it is enticing.
With each year, I suddenly get closer.
My responsibility expands, my knowledge grows, my dependence shortens.
Yet, excitement soon evolves into fear as I realize that things don’t ‘just happen.’
By college, I diagnose myself with a phobia for change, stagnation, and failure.


D.C. is my chance.
There is a magic about the city, a flair that words cannot justly describe.
When walking the streets, purpose becomes evident – you are in a place of wonders.
A friend describes it as a movie set, it’s not real, and is meant to serve moments rather than be the place where one chooses to settle down…
It has given me the right moments to move forward in my life with a zest for opportunities and action.

I am terrified of adulthood.
But this is not an end, it is merely the beginning

Ozi Emeziem is a senior at UC Berkeley, studying comparative literature and ethnic studies. She is currently interning with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.