Earlier this month, three of the Banaa scholars were reunited in Washington, D.C. for a few days of workshops at our Third Summer Summit. Two of our scholars from the University of Rochester, Sameer Kuku Kafur and Salva Kuac Barjok, had the opportunity to meet up once again with their fellow scholar, Jacob Mator Aketch from The George Washington University for an exciting three days of stimulating discussions.
The summit began on August 6th with a workshop at The Enough Project, where the scholars were able to learn more about The Enough Project’s efforts to build peace and end crimes against humanity in and around Sudan and South Sudan. The scholars eagerly engaged the staff by asking questions about how they expect to see Sudan and South Sudan change in the upcoming years and were able to learn how non-profit organizations like The Enough Project are able to make positive impacts in the development of the Sudans.
Later that day, the scholars met with Jonas Claes, the Senior Program Officer for the Center for Applied Research on Conflict (ARC) at the United States Institute of Peace. Claes gave presentations on the Responsibility to Protect, a norm stating that states are responsible for protecting their citizens from mass atrocities, as well as on election violence across a variety of nations. The scholars particularly enjoyed this workshop, with Jacob commenting that he was grateful to have this opportunity to learn about subjects that are not often brought up in his typical civil engineering coursework.
On the second day, the scholars explored exhibits at the National Museum of American History before heading over to the Department of State for an incredible workshop in the Office of the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. While there, the scholars had the opportunity to speak with the ambassador to South Sudan, Susan D. Page as well as the Senior Sudan and South Sudan Desk Officers, Breanna Green and Sean Cely. Everyone involved had a great, informative time through thought-provoking discussions between the scholars and the U.S. government’s leading experts on Sudan and South Sudan. The scholars and the office staff all learned from each other as the scholars asked questions regarding sanctions and the role of the Special Envoy’s office, and the Desk Officers asked the scholars about what they think is the most important thing for the office to know about the Sudanese and South Sudanese people.
For the final day of the summit, Eve Gray of Banaa’s Board of Advisors hosted a workshop for the scholars with a focus on networking. The scholars practiced introductory conversations that they can use at networking events in order to connect more easily with people who have similar interests to them. In fact, the workshop was so successful that the scholars were able to talk and exchange business cards with a Sudanese person that they saw while walking to lunch just ten minutes after Eve’s workshop had finished!
Once the final workshop was completed, the scholars enjoyed a final wrap-up lunch with friends, members of Banaa’s Board of Advisors, and alumni of the Banaa student organization. The summit ended with the scholars feeling grateful for both the opportunity to reconnect with each other and the Banaa staff as well as for the intriguing workshops they were able to participate in. We wish the scholars the best of luck as they continue their studies and their work, and we cannot wait for next year’s summit!
George Washington University Class of 2018