Class XIII (2015-2016)

RACHEL HALL BEECROFT 

Sponsor Club: Minneapolis University Rotary Club, Minnesota, USA, District 5950 

Host Club: Rotary Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, AUS, District 9630 

Rachel is from Lansing, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Individualized Studies in Political Science, Management, and Human Rights & Genocide Studies from the University of Minnesota. Rachel completed high school and university combined in a total of six years, and quickly developed a passion for travel. During a year abroad, Rachel volunteered at a small medical clinic in Haiti, interned in central India focusing on rural water management, and worked in Laos. Rachel has travelled and worked in 37 countries, and hopes to experience many more cultures in the coming years. 

Upon returning to the United States, Rachel accepted a position with World Without Genocide, an anti-genocide organization that achieves its goals through education and political advocacy at local, state, and national levels. At World, Rachel created and implemented a three day, intensive Summer Institute for high school students, where students learn about genocide and the tools to stand up for human rights, both locally and globally. She is passionate about educating and training today’s youth to create world change tomorrow. 

Rachel travelled and worked in Southeast Asia and Australia before moving to Brisbane to begin her studies. As part of her Applied Field Experience, Rachel worked in Myanmar with Nonviolent Peaceforce, training civilians to act as unarmed civilian protection monitors and civilian ceasefire monitors. 

As a private pilot, Rachel enjoys flying and you can find her developing handicrafts in her free time. 

Rachel is grateful for this incredible opportunity, and is thrilled to be based in Australia, where she is able to stay connected to her interests of peacebuilding within the context of Southeast Asia. 

 
 
 
 

 

MARIA CARUSO 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Rotary Club of Newburg, 

Oregon, USA, District 5100 

Host Club: 

Rotary Club of Pine Rivers, 

Murrumba Downs, AUS, District 9600 

Maria is from Portland, Oregon. She attended the University of San Francisco where she received her BA in Politics and Middle Eastern studies with a focus on Public Service. While in school, she spent time studying Contemporary Islam in Washington, D.C., Jordan, and Egypt. In Egypt, she developed a fascination with the complexities of international affairs and the influence of religiosity in politics - particularly in the Middle East. Shortly after graduating, she moved to Cairo, Egypt to study Arabic and to immerse herself in the cultural experiences and daily life of the Arab world. After leaving the Middle East, she relocated to Syracuse in upstate New York, with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. During her year of service she worked for Catholic Charities as an Outreach Worker in their Emergency Services Program, working primarily with families being evicted from their homes and gaining a new understanding of the struggles of domestic urban poverty. Before beginning the fellowship, she lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and worked at Crittenton Women’s Union, a family homeless shelter that provides a safety net for those most in need and also innovative solutions to help women and their families attain economic independence. Additionally, she volunteered for a start-up non-profit called Prosperity Catalyst, which serves women in impoverished countries and seeks to equip them with the tools and training to become independent entrepreneurs as well as leaders and catalysts for social change in their communities. There she worked in development and communications, helping to raise funds and awareness for the work of the organization. In her studies last year, Maria spent time focusing on disaster management and completed her field work in Vijayawada, in southern India, where she was exposed to the hardships rural communities face when struck by cyclones, flooding, and draught. She hopes to build on this experience by working in the field of disaster management after she graduates in June.

 

n June 

 

 

 

GINA KAR-LAY FU 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Rotary Club of San José Silicon Valley, 

California, USA, District 5170 

Host Club: 

Rotary Club of Toowong, 

Toowong, AUS, District 9600 

Gina is an American of Chinese descent who was born and raised in California. She completed her undergraduate degrees at San José State University (SJSU) where she double majored in Global Studies and Japanese language. While at SJSU, Gina studied abroad for an academic year at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. After graduating, she worked at a local non-profit organization where she supported the educational developmental needs of underprivileged children (ages 1-14) from immigrant families. Gina then worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine for the next two years. She collaborated with Ukrainian educators to develop new learning resources and strategies for the classroom in addition to implementing other civic initiatives within the community. Upon returning to the United States, Gina joined an online educational platform as a curriculum developer with the goal of bridging the achievement gap in education for over 1.8 million student users in grades K-8 in over 36,000 schools. Gina recently completed her internship at a Chinese ecotourism social enterprise as part of her applied fieldwork experience (AFE) for Rotary and helped lay the foundation for the organization’s new sustainable development program in Zhonglu, a Tibetan village located in the Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. As a result of the AFE, she feels she received a valuable opportunity to work for an organization that occupies a unique niche in society during such a dynamic period in Chinese politics. She hopes to use the knowledge and skills gained through the Rotary Peace Fellowship to become more deeply involved with youth development and community empowerment in underrepresented regions. 

Gina enjoys interacting with her community and was a food pantry volunteer. With her two dogs, she also volunteered at a senior citizen home and was part of a reading buddies program. Her other interests include traveling and learning languages. Gina speaks Japanese, Russian, and Cantonese and is currently learning Mandarin and Korean. 

 

and Korean.

 

 

SAILA HUUSKO 

 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Luoteis-Helsingin Rotaryklubi, 

Helsinki, Finland, District 1420 

Host Club: 

Rotary Club of Logan, 

Logan, AUS, District 9630 

Saila Huusko is an independent documentary filmmaker, journalist, and international conflict resolution professional. Her work has appeared online at Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, and GlobalPost – among many others. She worked for three years as the multimedia producer for Crisis Management Initiative, a conflict resolution organization founded and chaired by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Martti Ahtisaari. She has worked in several conflict and post-conflict areas, including West Africa, South Sudan, and Afghanistan. Her work, covering a range of themes from gender-based violence to the art of peace mediation, was screened at the European Parliament and the United Nations, and was distributed throughout the African Union. 

Saila holds a BA magna cum laude with honors in Political Science from Middlebury College, where she also was a Davis UWC Scholar. She spent a semester studying Conflict Resolution in Washington D.C. and a semester in Santiago, Chile. She recently earned a Master of Science in Journalism with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Born and raised in Finland, she is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Journalism Fellowship, the Joan Konner Scholarship in Broadcast Journalism, and the Judy F. Crichton/duPont Award for best documentary in her graduating class at Columbia. She completed high school at the Mahindra United World College (UWC) of India as a scholar of the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Later, she volunteered to help start a UWC in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The experience had a profound impact on her. When the school opened in 2006, it was the first time in over a decade that young people from the different ethnic groups in Mostar shared a classroom. 

Saila is currently co-directing her first feature-length documentary, which tells the story of a gay and Mormon professor who runs to become the president of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the United States. The documentary is slated for release at film festivals and a national broadcast in the United States within the next two years. Saila is interested in real-life stories that highlight underdogs and those fighting for positive change. 

 

positive change. 

 

 

JENICA MOORE 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Comstock Park Rotary Club, 

Michigan, USA, District 6290 

Host Club: 

Brisbane Inner West Rotary Club, 

Brisbane, AUS, District 9600 

Jenica Marie hails from District 6290, representing clubs from northwest Michigan and Canada. As an Ambassadorial Scholar to Jordan in 2007, she worked with children at the Madaba Youth Center. While there, she created a youth program on economic development and sustainability. 

Since then, she has worked to create social justice organizations on Western Michi-gan University’s campus for undergraduate and graduate students, providing participants with educational, leadership, and internship opportunities. Jenica is most interested in studying conflict and security in the Middle East. Particularly, she is interested in aspects of ethnic conflict such as determining the predictability of violent outbreaks, measuring the influence of groups during times of tensions, and assessing the international implications of seemingly localized violence. 

She is also eager to explore the insights of conflict prevention that game theory may offer. Political economy is also an important aspect of her studies. 

Dancing, sports, and musical theater are among her favorite activities. She is thankful for the support that her district has given her over the years, and has very much enjoyed her studies at the University of Queensland. 

of Queensland. 

 

KATE ROUGVIE 

 

Sponsor Club: 

District 1040, Yorkshire, UK 

Host Club: 

Mount Gravatt Rotary Club, 

Mount Gravatt, AUS, District 9630 

Kate is from the United Kingdom, and has come to UQ thanks to the support of local Rotary International District 1040 of Yorkshire, England. Kate is a specialist in prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV) in humanitarian emergencies, with a focus on conflict-affected countries. 

In 2010, she graduated with an MA in Languages from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Having already spent time in India working on development projects, she decided to change direction from languages towards humanitarian assistance, peace and security issues, and took up an internship with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) in New York. Here, she was exposed to issues around military and civilian response to conflict-related sexual violence, and worked on policy around the Protection of Civilians by UN peacekeeping missions. 

Following this she moved to Jordan to work with a UN agency on security and protection issues across the Middle-East, focusing on Palestinian refugees. She then moved to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she worked with an international NGO on election issues and was inspired by the work of women's political empowerment groups. Her following mission was to Liberia, where she worked on emergency Child Protection programs for an INGO, supporting Ivorian refugee children and Liberian host communities. She then moved to South Sudan where she implemented GBV prevention and response programs for an INGO. Kate’s last mission was to the Central African Republic, where she spent 15 months overseeing the GBV and Protection department, and led the national coordination of humanitarian response to GBV during and following the outbreak of violent conflict in 2013. 

During her time as a Rotary Peace Fellow at UQ, Kate spent three months in Beirut, Lebanon, as a Visiting Researcher with the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World – part of the Lebanese American University. She carried out research on gender and security sector reform in the Lebanese context, and supported a project to build the capacity of the Lebanese police force to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, and to improve gender equality in the forces. 

in the forces. 

 

NABI SAHAK 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Rotary Club of Great Falls, 

Virginia, USA, District 7610 

Host Club: 

Brisbane High Rise Rotary Club, 

Brisbane, AUS, District 9600 

Nabi Sahak graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University in the United States. Nabi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Before migrating to the U.S., he lived in Afghanistan for nearly 30 years, and witnessed five regime changes: the Soviet war from 1979 to 1989, the post-communist government from 1989 to 1992, the civil war from 1992 to 1996, the Taliban government from 1996 to 2001, and finally the Karzai government. He speaks four South Asian languages fluently: Pashtu/Pukhtu, Dari, Farsi, and Urdu. From 1997 until 2002, he worked as a BBC reporter. In this capacity he travelled to 27 provinces of Afghanistan (out of 34) when the Taliban ruled the country. He also travelled extensively among numerous refugee camps throughout Pakistan. As a BBC reporter, his primary task was to conduct focus groups, interviews, and surveys to collect and analyse data for the BBC's Afghan Educational Project. Throughout those five years, he learned about the governments, cultures, master narratives, societal norms, philosophical and anthropological makeup of the societies in South Asia, specifically those in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

As part of his Applied Field Experience from October to December 2015, Nabi travelled to Central Asia to explore whether or not the dispute over the contested border, Durand Line, between Afghanistan and Pakistan could be peacefully resolved. 

After his graduation as a Rotary Peace Fellow with a Master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Resolution, Nabi intends to work as a practitioner in the field. He will be exploring employment with non-governmental or non-profit organizations that focus on and promote human rights, particularly in the post-conflict environments. 

Nabi’s personal background, extensive professional experience, and deep interest in the field of peace and conflict resolution make him a great practitioner and scholar of peace. 

scholar of peace. 

 

MEGAN SMITH 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Eugene Metro Rotary Club, 

Oregon, USA, District 5100 

Host Club: 

Brisbane Centenary Rotary Club & Balmoral Rotary Club, 

Brisbane, AUS, District 9600 

Megan Smith is an English-American disability rights activist with a background in leading exchange and development programs within Central and South Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa and South America. Megan has worked for a grassroots non-governmental organization Mobility International USA, leading international exchange and development programs promoting the rights of people with disabilities and vulnerable populations. With a passion for implementing inclusive development practices, Megan has recently worked to make health care clinics and programs accessible to women with disabilities in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Working with local advocacy organizations in Pakistan and with local women with disabilities, Megan conducted workshops, training healthcare providers and humanitarian aid workers in creating inclusive reproductive health, vocational training and disaster risk reduction programs. While in Afghanistan, Megan worked with landmine survivors in rural Ghazni, focusing on improving access to family planning and psychosocial support programs, as well as working with demining agencies in the rural provinces. She has worked within rehabilitation programs for imprisoned women with disabilities involved in terrorist activity within Afghanistan. While working within a community based rehabilitation framework, she collaborated with communities to identify areas that made women with disabilities more vulnerable to recruitment for terrorist or illegal activities. Most recently, Megan spent time with UNICEF Cambodia to support its disability inclusive programming. During her time at UNICEF, Megan supported the development of learning materials on disability inclusion, mapping disability related data and information on children with disabilities, and documentation of partners’ activities. Working closely with Cambodian ministries, Megan developed and led capacity building workshops for the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Social Affairs on inclusive development. While with UNICEF, Megan contributed to important discussions in the office regarding inclusion and outside of the office initiated the development of Cambodia’s first wheelchair accessible tuk-tuk. 

accessible tuk-tuk. 

 

 

PEM WANGDI 

 

Sponsor Club: 

Rotary Club of Thimphu, 

Thimphu, Bhutan, District 3292 

Host Club: 

Rotary Club of Kenmore, 

Brisbane, AUS, District 9600 

Pem is from Bhutan and a mother of two. Prior to coming to Australia, she worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bhutan where she headed the Management Support Unit overseeing its program and financial management, and providing quality assurance support. Pem has an undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from the Rangsit University, Thailand, and a Masters’ in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University in the U.S., where her Masters’ thesis focused on the Impact of Integrated Community Development Projects on Gender Relations. Pem has also worked with the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC), Bhutan’s first and only human rights organization looking after the rights of both women and children playing a key role in its establishment and program formulation. Her work at the NCWC included working with the judiciary and the police in reviewing existing legal and police processes and advocating for their reform to make them more women and children friendly, and a local NGO (RENEW) to expand its outreach and rehabilitation programs. Her work also included meeting victims of violence (primarily domestic violence) - the youngest being only 6 months - in order to document their stories to support future policy development (Bhutan now has a Domestic Violence Prevention Act). Together with her two children, Pem was in Bangladesh over the summer for her Applied Field Experience portion of the Fellowship working with the UNDP Bangladesh Country Office. She was attached to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Facility, the project office for UNDP’s flagship program in Bangladesh. Pem firmly believes that the Fellowship and the degree in Peace and Conflict Studies has expanded her capacity and working opportunities. She is positive that the opportunity provided by this fellowship will give her a better grounding and more substantive knowledge and skills to work on issues of peace and conflict resolution in cultural settings very different from her own. 

very different from her own.