Mini-Grant Awardees

Interested in receiving a PJSA Mini-Grant of up to $500 to support your work? Members can complete the short application here.

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2023 Mini-Grant Awardees

Helal Khan

“What is justice to the Rohingya and how do they pursue it in Chicago and Milwaukee”

Have the Rohingya from Chicago and Milwaukee, or their cultural centers, connected with their European or Canadian counterparts toward any meaningful transatlantic cooperation?

I will do these interviews using a week of ethnography, including brief ethnographic participation in the two Rohingya cultural centers. I foresee each interview to involve two sessions of informal chats, preferably spread within two days (I will utilize the rest of the time in these two days to also speak with other staff in these centers, which I have visited many times in the past and can meaningfully connect with some of the personnel there to learn about related institutional contexts). Thus, I will need four days for the ethnography and a day aggregated for the travel (Notre Dame-Chicago-Milwaukee-Notre Dame) — a total of five days of work (four nights). I will coordinate the specific dates with the RCC and RAS and complete this work preferably between July and August 2023 (as the first preference) or between September and October 2023 (as the second preference).

Katherine Mahon, Alex Szebenyi, Yehuda Silverman

Indigenous Stories

At Acquaint (, we are a recent nonprofit peacebuilding initiative dedicated to online interpersonal dialogue around the world through the usage of our free virtual platform, which houses a variety of unique digital modules that participants can embark on together through one-on-one conversations. So far, nearly 1,000 volunteers from over 85 nations have connected through more than 30 unique virtual modules to learn about specific topics, while also sharing about their own backgrounds and experiences.

As an example to see how volunteers connect on Acquaint, please visit this link:

While there are a variety of scenic tours (Botanical Gardens, Scenic Overlooks Around the World, and many more) along with historic modules (Chernobyl, Ancient Egypt, and National Museum of Anthropology, and several more) there are currently none solely dedicated to the indigenous community. Indigenous history is not often taught in schools and mentioned in the mainstream media.

At Acquaint, our digital platform is open to volunteers who are fifteen years and older, which creates a potentiality for people through many walks of life to become more aware of the indigenous injustices. The opportunity for people to learn more about the indigenous community and possibly become more involved in supporting them is palpable. This is because the platform focuses on decentralized dialogue, where each participant takes individual accountability.

In order to accurately create a module that honors and respects the indigenous spirit, part of this project will focus on connecting with the Seminole Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, which is located in a rural area of Florida (Clewiston). This specific museum was chosen because it is owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and also due to its focus on activist programming, such as the exhibit on “Seeing Red: A Community’s Response to Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.”Moreover, the smaller environment of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum will ensure deeper possibilities of developing interpersonal connections in asking more information about the indigenous history and historical inaccuracies that have also been a major critique of the more mainstream indigenous museums.

Through first-hand observation and action research, the museum will serve as a reference point to further expand the indigenous module, which will focus on the indigenous community throughout our world. Generally, the modules are between 8-16 “slides”, and some of these slides will include a focus on the historical injustices that the indigenous community has faced in the past and some that are currently ongoing. These elements would include stolen land, the disappearance of indigenous people and lack of media attention, along with historical information that is not well known.

The module will also take an activist approach, asking discussion questions that participants will connect together and encourage reflective and proactive elements, such as:

    • Have you ever connected with an indigenous person or community before? If so, what was your experience?
    • When was the last time you heard about an indigenous person or event surrounding the indigenous community? What was it about?

Grandmother Julieta Casimiro, Mazatec Elder, says “We must do what is right today. In this moment. Not tomorrow, or next year. No, the time is now.” In honor of her call for action, what is something positive or peaceful you can do today for yourself or for someone?

Upon completion of the beta module, feedback from participants, along with survey responses, will help gauge the impact of the module, along with additional elements that could be added. The module will then permanently be part of the selection of journeys that all participants can opt to connect on through Acquaint’s virtual platform.

Nya MBock

Students As Agents of Change: Using Art for Activism

This project will involve collaborating with a West Philadelphia middle school (Andrew Hamilton) on a series of art workshops that will not only cultivate creativity, but also develop critical thinking, empathy, and a sense of civic responsibility. This workshop allows students to explore social inequalities, human rights, and systemic injustices through various art forms such as painting, sculpture, and multimedia installations in a safe and supportive environment.

By analyzing societal challenges and engaging in meaningful discussions about the root causes of injustice and inequality, students are encouraged to become critical thinkers. Additionally, the project intends to foster empathy and understanding by offering students the opportunity to explore different perspectives and experiences of marginalized communities through the use of art. Additionally, it aims to strengthen advocacy skills by equipping students with the necessary tools to effectively communicate their ideas, aspirations, and concerns through artistic activism. The project also aims to display students’ artwork through an exhibition, creating an opportunity to share their creations with the wider community, encourage dialogue, and raise public awareness about local peace and justice practices.

2022 Mini-Grant Awardee

Vanessa Meng

Environmental education and Asian-American identity for Chinese-American kids

Chinese-Americans have a culturally embedded appreciation of nature. In fact, studies show that Chinese Americans are amongst the highest population who grow their own vegetables in their homes. However, there is often a gap in knowledge and understanding of how to situate the self in relations with the American environmental movement at large, and the history of environmental injustices in this country. Asian Americans and Chinese Americans more specifically are often ignored from the larger environmental conversation. This camp aims to bridge the gap between cultural appreciation and conservation values at home and the larger environmental issues that surround us. It hopes to inspire kids to know that they too can help the world and make an impact!

This two week camp is focused on environmental education and Asian-American identity for Chinese American kids aged 7-11. My goal is to have 10 kids. It will be in person in my local community. I have learned from my mistakes last year and have built up a stronger network in the area. We will be learning about the indigenous history of our land that we live on, the reality of our local incinerator and the food desert that is next to our township. We will also be doing things like trash clean ups, writing letters to the local government to stop sending trash to the Chester Incinerator and making posters for protests with the Environmental Justice Network. The kids will be creating artworks that advocate for the environment and celebrate their heritage as well!