Congratulations to Claire James, winner of the Inaugural L&S Wolff Fellowship. She is graduating this week with majors in international studies and economics and with certificates in European Studies and French. Claire is also an editor for the Journal of Undergraduate International Studies (JUIS) which is now managed by IRIS NRC.
The College of Letters & Science’s Wolff Fellowship provides $45,000 to an L&S senior “to pursue their passions without limits,” as described by donors Paul Martin Wolff ’63 and Rhea S. Schwartz. The fellowship emphasizes both academic accomplishment and community service. “When we set out to create this opportunity, we knew there were students with incredible talents and a desire for service that we could support,” said Paul Wolff, a UW-Madison history graduate. “Claire James is clearly an exceptional graduate who we are proud to champion as she pursues these worthy efforts.”
This summer, James will work on English language programming in Nagasaki, Japan, and then move to Seoul, South Korea to teach English to high-school students planning to study at U.S. colleges. This builds on her experiences volunteering with Madison’s Open Doors for Refugees, where she has helped English-language learners at Madison College practice conversation.
Her fascination with the intersections of economics, poverty, and geography are leading James into field research for the second half of her trip. In January, she will volunteer with the Associated Center for Agro-Based Development (ACADES) in Lilongwe, Malawi, which is a partner in UW-Madison’s Project Malawi. James will contribute to ACADES’ initiatives that work to empower smallholder farmers. Later that spring, she’ll volunteer with the Sehgal Foundation in Gurugram, India, which supports a wide range of community-led initiatives. James will work on a project examining gender roles in agriculture. The final stage will be in Buenos Aires, Argentina, attending a Spanish academy for intensive study of that language.
“The only way we can make meaningful change happen is when you have people bringing different skills and ideas and backgrounds to the table,” she reflects. “You learn a lot about yourself when you put yourself into a totally new situation, away from your comfortable routines. I’m so thankful for this opportunity to have this extraordinary experience.”