The Roosevelt Institution has been an active student think tank at GW for more than two years, but sophomore Zach Hindin is the first of the organization’s members in Foggy Bottom to publish his work in the think tank’s national policy journal, the Roosevelt Review.
The journal accepts submissions from universities across the country and is distributed to state and federal legislators, advocacy groups and other think tanks. Last year the committee who selects papers for the journal received 500 submissions. Zach Hindin and Benjamin Nelson, a former classmate who transferred to Georgetown, co-authored “Bringing Dawn to Darfur,” a paper the two originally wrote for UW-20, a required freshman writing course at GW.
In the paper, Hindin said he wanted “to develop a holistic understanding of the problem at every level: civilian, government and international.”
“There’s an unavoidable link between . the country and the tensions of the people that the paper also explores,” he said.
The pair started working on the paper last November when their professor assigned them to the same group to write short essays about the genocide in Sudan. Hindin said his UW-20 course focused on “writing that advocates on behalf of people that are in the marginalized sectors of society.”
The paper looks at factors that have contributed to violence in Sudan, such as colonialism and cultural divisions. It recommends policies such as increasing the number of troops in the region and divesting from companies that do business with Sudan’s National Congress party.
Hindin has followed the developments in Darfur since high school.
“This is the first conflict of this scale that I’ve been able to watch actively from start to finish,” he said.
Caitlin Howarth, chair of the 2006-2007 editorial board for the Roosevelt Review, said the board choose papers that “(try) to not only educate readers, but also bring people into a conversation that is going to contribute to the future.”
She said the Darfur paper was “one of the most timely papers that we’ve had submitted . the piece was well-written and engaging; it drew people into the subject.”
Now Hindin is working to offer a student from Darfur the same opportunity he has had to study at GW through the student-run program Banaa. Coming from an Arabic word meaning to form or “create,” Banaa was founded by students at GW who are working to bring a student from Darfur to the Unites States so he or she can receive a college education from GW.
“I felt that advocacy and conflict resolution and peace building was an area I could apply my skills and compassion on a local scale,” he said.
Last year Banaa received a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg Award of $210,000, a sum that covers all four years of the exchange student’s tuition at GW.
Members of Banaa have also met with Elliot Hirshman, the chief research officer at GW and a professor of psychology, to see if the group could obtain more funds from the University. However, Hindin said, the grant money is “contingent on finding an associate professor that can act as our principal investigator.”
“This is small scale from what we want to do,” Hindin added. “This has the potential to become an institution.”
“We’re trying to build a model for a grassroots peace-building movement that can organically happen at the local level and be applied to any conflict-torn area,” Hindin said.
Though his paper and his advocacy work, Hindin wants to spread awareness of the tragedy in Sudan.
“I saw this paper as a huge opportunity for personal growth and to develop my own insights about the crisis,” he said. “If nothing else, I would hope the paper incites people to learn more.”