Milena Berestko smiles

Milena Berestko

Milena Berestko ’22 (psychology, theater)

Humanity in Action Fellowship In Sarajevo

The Humanity in Action Fellowship brings together international groups of fellows to study minority rights and produce original research exploring how and why individuals and societies, past and present, have resisted intolerance and protected democratic values.

What I expect from this experience: As a graduating senior, I am looking forward to expanding my knowledge and network to continue organizing, this time on a global arena. I also wanted to get to know activists and scholars from Sarajevo, and learn about the most successful projects they have led, and how to build alliances within specific communities. 

What the program entails: Humanity in Action Fellowship to Sarajevo is split into two sections: preparation and action project execution. In the first stage, with a cohort of other students, I attend daily workshops, lectures and lead discussions to arrive at the core understanding of democracy, populism and governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The second component is where all the fun begins. I get to develop my own action project and make a change in my community. I am in the incubation stage for my action project. I am allowing it to evolve as I am acquiring more knowledge, building connections and exploring new culture. The program concludes with a gala in one of the major European cities; this year it is Berlin. The fellowship begins with the first week of June and ends in May of 2023, which is the date of my action project launch/premiere. 

How Lafayette prepared me for this experience: I credit my women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and psychology courses as instrumental in my growth. They inspired me to use education as a tool of advocacy. Specifically, Professor [Angela] Bell and Professor [Dana] Cuomo who challenged me to think about prejudice and intersectionality using different lenses. They supported me in my activism efforts and guided in my research. 

How I expect this to benefit me: I want to grow my professional network in students and activists who made striving for social justice part of their careers. As I am getting wiser, I recognize the importance of multicultural understanding and historical perspectives. History doesn’t repeat itself, people do, and for that reason I am dedicated to building resilient communities of people who do not stray away from asking tough questions and facing their fears. We need to embrace our differences and communicate across front-lines. I am looking forward to being intellectually challenged during this program. I want to occupy spaces where I am the least experienced, knowledgeable person as this is where I am guaranteed to grow and challenge my own preconceived notions. My action project will be a testament to my growth and dedication to social equity and democracy.

I view my work as separated into three pillars: research, creative development, and activism. As long as I keep these pillars balanced, I will continue to step into my truest self. Humanity in Action grants me a creative freedom to design and implement an action project, which in its essence embodies the three pillars. My long term career goal is to become an applied social psychologist who uses her findings and knowledge to advocate for justice. I also want to keep writing and publish the book I am currently working on. As you can see, my life goals naturally sort themselves into these three categories, add traveling to the mix, and I will be the happiest woman alive.

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Categorized in: Academic News, Global Education, Global Impact, Psychology, Scholarships and Fellowships, Student Profiles, Students, Theater