Like most first year students, when Amelia Andersen 06F arrived on campus two years ago, she began the difficult task of narrowing down her interests to find one focus of study. As it turned out, a stay in Mexico shortly after she graduated high school ended up being a key part in her decision-making.
"Over my first year I bounced around a lot, and between the first and second year I thought a lot about what my time in Mexico meant to me. I realized there was a way to address and access issues. There are so many issues, immigration, people living their lives in the shadows and outside the law. And that's everywhere in the nation at this point. I realized I had a big opportunity at Hampshire College," says Andersen.
Andersen now mixes her social sciences studies at Hampshire with numerous classes at Amherst College in the Department of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought. She has also played an important part in forming the Latin American Study Group and the Pre-Law Group on campus, efforts that she said would have been much more difficult without the help of professors like law professor Flavio Risech-Ozeguera, anthropology professor Michelle Bigenho, and sociology professor Margaret Cerullo.
"There is lots of collaboration with the faculty in social sciences. There's so much opportunity to collaborate here," said Andersen, who worked with the American Friends Service Committee in San Diego this past summer to work on human rights documentation, community base building, and legal research about border patrol checkpoints after being connected with the group by Risech-Ozeguera. "The Hampshire experience is so much about the connections you make and the relationships you foster. People are always willing to talk," she said.
Now working on her Division II, Andersen says her Div III research will possibly address the ways international human rights doctrines can be viewed in the context of American legal courts, in the context of making arguments for migrants' rights. But she realizes that this could change over the course of the next year's studies, as well as after another trip to Mexico this coming summer, where she will work with the Mexico Solidarity Network in a program called 21st Century Border Dynamics and Gender.
"Every class I take gives me a new idea and a new dynamic, a wider perspective on what to focus on," said Andersen.
The Latin American Study Group and the Pre-Law Group both have varying schedules, and Andersen says meetings are advertised around campus. Everyone at Hampshire is invited to participate.
Photos taken by Amelia Andersen during an American Friends Service Committee protest in summer 2008.