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U.Va. Fourth-Year Student Sarah Deal Nets Human Rights Fellowship

Sarah Deal, a fourth-year student in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, will study human rights in Poland this summer as a 2013 Humanity in Action Fellow.

Deal, a political philosophy, policy and law major and a religious studies minor, will be going to Warsaw from June 1 to June 30. The Humanity in Action Fellowship brings together international groups of college students and recent graduates to explore different national histories of discrimination and resistance to injustice, as well as examples of contemporary issues affecting minority groups.

“The Warsaw program is actually unique, in that fellows share a hostel in the heart of the city,” Deal said. “I will be with fellows from across the world.

“While each program is highly interdisciplinary, Poland tends to focus more heavily on the Holocaust and the way that this part of Poland's history continues to shape the city.  We will be focusing on minority rights, social and economic marginalization, and human trafficking, among other topics.”

Humanity in Action Fellows are selected for their high academic standing, active engagement in human rights issues and recommendations from academics and other professionals known to the applicant. The American Fellows come from diverse backgrounds and 38 different academic institutions representing many parts of the country.

Deal, 21, of Charlottesville, is a member of the Hoos In Treble all-female a cappella singing group; the U.Va. University Singers; the U.Va. Chamber Singers; the International Justice Mission, U.Va. Chapter; and the International Studies Office outreach liaison to Theological Horizons. She co-wrote an article published in the Journal of Comparative Neurology in 2010 and completed field-based research on human rights in South Africa in spring 2012. A graduate of Albemarle High School, she plans to work in the human rights field while preparing for graduate school.

“As of now, my ideal job would involve working in some dimension that allows me to collaborate with government officials, lawyers and social workers on combating human trafficking in the United States and abroad,” she said.

Deal said she enjoys learning new languages and seeing new cultures, among the reasons she is looking forward to the Poland trip. Of the countries in which Action in Humanity operates, Poland is the one of which she knows the least.

“I applied to the Humanity in Action Fellowship because the program format and subject matter sounded very similar to the program that I enjoyed so much in South Africa and it seemed like a great way to continue studying human rights,” she said. “While abroad in South Africa, I studied human rights and multiculturalism in the classroom and through experiential learning, all while living with four different families throughout the country.  Humanity in Action will be covering a lot of the same broad topics, but I am excited to now be learning about them in the context of a democratic European country.”

Tim Hartman, a Ph.D. candidate in theology, ethics and culture in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, is Deal’s honors thesis advisor in political philosophy, politics and law. He said Deal has a questioning mind that masters material quickly.

“Sarah Deal is an engaging, kind, thoughtful and approachable person who will be an outstanding representative of the University abroad,” Hartman said. “Sarah brings a depth of international experience to the Humanity in Action Fellowship where her skills in asking significant, deep and probing questions that have an impact on our world will shape her research and future career.”

Hartman said Deal is interested in issues of global citizenship.

“I have had the privilege of watching Sarah continually interrogate her own argument as she seeks to articulate an understanding of global citizenship which allows for, but also modifies, the claims of national sovereignty and citizenship through the lens of United States domestic and foreign policy,” Hartman said. “Sarah is able to quickly master material, quickly recall the intricacies of arguments and use the work of others to inspire, bolster and support her own unique argument.”

Humanity in Action is an international educational organization. It educates, inspires and connects a global network of students, young professionals and established leaders committed to promoting human rights, diversity and active citizenship – in their own communities and around the world. It is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that operates in the U.S., Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Bosnia and France.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity to work with an international team in Poland and I look forward to having my eyes opened to a country and to issues about which I have much to learn,” Deal said.

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