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Students embark on summer of research, service

By Anna Stevens '10
June 2, 2010

Two academic scholarships will enable four St. Olaf students to spend their summer working on projects that range from interviewing members of the Khmer Kraom community in Cambodia to furthering hunger awareness and sustainability programs in churches across Minnesota.

The Kloeck-Jenson Scholarship for Peace and Justice Internships will allow Sokun Bobson '11 and Mara Fink '11 to pursue internships related to peace and justice issues, while the Melvin George Scholarship for Service and Leadership will provide Robyn Buchholz '11 and Joseph Paille '11 with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and commitment to service.

Kloeck-Jenson Scholarship for Peace and Justice Internships
Sokun Bobson '11 will spend his summer in Cambodia working on the Khmer Kraom Documentary Photography Project through Access to Justice Asia. Bobson, whose family fled Cambodia in the early 1980s, will photograph and interview people and sites involved during a period of genocide in the 1970s.

"My Cambodian culture is a very important aspect in my life," Bobson says. "This opportunity gives me the chance to work with the Khmer Kraom community and let the larger community know their stories of hope and survival."

Mara Fink '11 will intern with the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland, Oregon, where she will work on new social justice education programs and research the history of Japanese American internment during World War II.

"As a Japanese American whose grandmother was relocated to one of the internment camps, it is especially important for me personally to do this project," Fink says. "Many of the people in the Japanese American community, including my grandmother, don't like to to talk about it, and as this older generation starts to pass on, it is especially important that we keep their stories alive so things like the internment never happen again."

Fink plans to return to Minnesota following her internship and produce educational materials for possible use in elementary school libraries.

Melvin George Scholarship for Service and Leadership
Robyn Buchholz '11 will spend her summer working one-on-one with an Anoka County social worker in the field of child protection and family assessment. Buchholz, who plans to pursue a career in social work, will join her mentor on home visits and will learn to conduct interviews, perform background checks, and file the paperwork required by the child protection department.

"As a social work major, I have been extremely interested in children and their safety within the household," Buchholz says. "I think this internship will be a great way for me to explore my interests and see if this is the right field for me."

Joseph Paille '11 will be working at the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota. He will focus on hunger awareness programs and sustainability initiatives in congregations across the state. He will participate in two primary projects this summer, one devoted to helping congregations recognize their potential for social change and the other to serve those without voice in policy debate.

Paille plans to become an ordained pastor in the ELCA and will use his experiences this summer to better understand the leadership that is needed to turn religious beliefs into civic actions.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or