2004 Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellow
Fellowship Site: Hogar de Cristo, Arequipa, Peru
By Pat McGroarty
Amanda Loge is in the early stages of a passionate desire to work in the field of human rights. It is a passion that she intends to continue throughout her career and her life. As a student in pursuit of a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota, Loge has dedicated her education and future career to serving the needs of others: “Every job that’s ever been attractive to me has involved serving people in some way. After high school I worked in a migrant head start program with Latino families in rural Minnesota. I fell completely in love with immigrant and refugee work. The most logical path for me was social work, and I combined an undergraduate degree in Family Social Science with Spanish studies.”
After completing her undergraduate studies, Loge knew that a Masters Degree would be essential to the social work she wanted to undertake. She began studying for a Masters in Social Work from the University of Minnesota. The program’s requirements include two volunteer internships of roughly 500 hours each. Loge has completed the first of these internships at West Seventh Community Center in Saint Paul, and received a 2004 Upper Midwest Human Rights Fellowship to fulfill her second internship in Peru.
“I’ve known since entering my Masters Program that I wanted to do an international internship. I’ve been fascinated by Peru since high school because of the strong indigenous influence and serious political volatility and change. Peru is overcoming some of that political volatility now, but I wanted to travel there to see how those factors affect the people,” she explained.
After deciding on Peru, Loge learned of the Hogar de Cristo organization through connections in Minnesota. She has completed her course work at the University, and plans to stay in Peru for an entire year as a volunteer intern for the organization: “I wanted to stay for a full year to really dig deep into the local issues. My work will focus on the rights of children living on the streets in the community. I’ll be working with a psychologist and a social worker, caring for the physical and mental health of these children and their families.”
Loge went on to say that she will also be working with education programs, both for the children themselves and for their families. Many families rely on the income of their young children to survive, and these programs teach parents ways to avoid sending their children to work, giving them the time to attend school instead.
When Loge returns from her time in Peru, she will have completed the requirements of her Social Work program and will receive her Masters Degree. She hopes to find a job working with the same immigrant and refugee peoples that sparked her love for social work: “My goal is to come back and work with the immigrant community in Minnesota. Working in Peru will give me a totally different perspective on another culture, and give me an idea of what it feels like to be a minority in a new place. Hopefully, this will help me see what barriers might exist in Minnesotan social services and what barriers new immigrant and refugee families face when they come here. I’ll have a better understanding of how to empower people here and advocate effectively for their rights.”
Loge is confident that her Human Rights Fellowship will only reinforce the conviction she holds within her to defend the human rights of people in whatever community surrounds her: “Right now, my focus is international. But down the road, I see myself in Minnesota, working to help improve the mental health of immigrants. You need to have the heart for this work, the passion. If you can keep that passion, can keep that focus, then I think you can create real change around you.”
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