World Learning/SIT is pleased to announce the creation of the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship Fund. This $100,000 fellowship fund established by the family of SIT Study Abroad Nicaragua ’06 alumna Alice Rowan Swanson, is a living tribute to Alice’s life, her passion for bridging cultures and helping others and the role that SIT Study Abroad played in her life. An Amherst ’07 graduate, Alice was killed while riding her bike to work in 2008.
Alice’s family believes that Alice would have spent her life working for human rights abroad, particularly in developing countries. This fund will annually award fellowships to SIT program alumni who would like to return to the country of their program to pursue further development projects that benefit human rights in that region.
Alice Rowan Swanson always wanted to live abroad and experience cultures different from her own. She began traveling with her family at the age of 10 and continued to follow her passion for international learning at Amherst College. Alice spent the first semester of her junior year in Cairo. Although abroad, she lived in a traditional dormitory, spoke English in class and never felt immersed in the local culture.
Alice spent her second semester in Nicaragua as a student with SIT Study Abroad’s Nicaragua: Revolution, Transformation, and Civil Society. Through this program, she felt connected and engaged with the local community and fully immersed in Nicaraguan culture. She discussed with local community members the need for clean drinking water and improved medical help. Alice realized that she wanted to engage in development work with local partners to improve social conditions and human rights. Upon returning to the US, she applied for and received a grant to continue her work with local communities in Nicaragua following her senior year of college.
When Alice returned from her second stay in Nicaragua, she served a four-month internship at the Middle East Institute, and obtained a job at IREX, an international nonprofit organization. Her co-workers observed that Alice “helped to build bridges of understanding between often disparate cultures, a task for which her welcoming personality and sharp intellect made her uniquely and excellently equipped.”
To continue Alice’s legacy, her family has established the Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship to support SIT alumni who seek to devote some months of their life pursuing a project that supports human rights: education, nutrition, medical care and freedom from tyranny. In so doing, each fellowship awardee will honor and pay tribute to the work that Alice had undertaken to make the world a better place and her desire to make a difference in the world for those less fortunate whom she viewed as part of her global family.
Ideal candidates for this fellowship will possess qualities resembling those of Alice Rowan Swanson, in the words of her family, friends and co-workers: “…intelligence and passion for learning; great warmth and friendliness; a smiling, welcoming personality, sharp intellectual rigor and fine writing, and an adventurous desire to experience untraditional locations, and through her personal initiative, to make the world a better place.”