The Haas Institute welcomed its sixth cohort in 2018 to take part in the annual Summer Fellowship, a 14-week program where fellows work directly with Institute staff on a range of projects to gain experience in and exposure to work around belonging.

The Summer Fellowship is packed with workshops and talks by prominent scholars from UC Berkeley and off-campus events and tours to sites that help people think about belonging in public spaces. Started in 2013, the fellowship has hired more than 80 fellows since its inception. 

“By engaging fellows on actual projects at the Institute, the fellowship is designed to train the next generation of researchers, community organizers, and policy advocates on a wide array of critical inquiries related to social and racial justice issues,” said Elsadig Elsheikh, a program manager at the Haas Institute who oversees the fellowship. The 2018 cohort included 10 fellows who worked across eight of the Institute’s program areas.

Each year the fellows organize a field trip to an off-campus site. The 2018 field trip included a picnic at Lake Merritt in Oakland—chosen after the incident when a white woman called the police on two Black men using a barbecue grill. At the picnic, the fellows met with Corrina Gould from the Confederated Villages of Lisjan/Ohlone, as well as the cartoonist Thi Bui. Later in the day the fellows visited the Palestine mural in Oakland, as well as a community garden on the UC Berkeley campus.

Here’s what some of the 2018 summer fellows had to say about their experiences:

Evan Yoshimoto
Global Justice Program

Having the opportunity to share space with some of the brightest and most passionate individuals working towards creating a society in which everyone belongs made work feel more of a privilege than a task. After our workshops and fellow discussions, I often left the office with new concepts and strategies that transformed my own approach to social justice issues. One workshop that sticks out was led by Evan BIssell, who created a space for us to deconstruct how imperative arts and cultural strategies are in making transformative change.

Adiba Hasan
Blueprint for Belonging

The fellowship has changed my frame of perspective when encountering various subjects and questioning things through the lens of othering and belonging. I think the best part of the fellowship is the genuine desire of the staff and supervisors to teach the fellows but also learn from us. Despite our differences, there was a commonality among the summer fellows and that made the time at this fellowship even more positive. Our conversations started off with whiteness as a culture to discussing our visions about the world and methods of bringing that to a reality.

Teofanny Octavia Saragi
Strategic Communications 

I dove deep into the heart of the Institute’s work on justice and equity through the lens of media and communications. Through the fellowship, I also participated in dynamic workshops about topics including the use of art and cultural strategy in advocacy. This workshop complemented my learning and role as a strategic communications fellow. Coming away from this fellowship, I feel better equipped in understanding and producing media and communications that is not only strategic, but also works to create more inclusion. 

Onisha Etkins
Just Public Finance

I couldn’t even begin to foresee what this summer experience would turn into. The awkward bunch that began the program, including myself, grew into a family with boisterous laughs that would draw people from nearby offices in to see what all the excitement was about. This was not just a group of coworkers, it was a community and we cared about each others lives and well-being beyond our work. 

Tali Braun
Global Justice Program

As a 17-year old intern, I had a unique experience with the fellowship program. I was extremely nervous to work alongside college students and graduates who I knew were far more accomplished. Fortunately, I was more than capable to do the work assigned and the fellows were very kind and welcoming. The Haas community has been so supportive of my thoughts and ideas and encouraged me to take advantage of this opportunity that I was given.

Huzaifa Shahbaz
Global Justice Program

I’ve been grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a researcher at the Haas Institute, allowing me to excel not only as a student but to better understand how to conduct thorough research and advance in academic reading and writing. I also enjoyed the multiple workshops presented to us. My favorite was on the Islamophobia industry by Hatem Bazian and how structural Islamophobia operates in the United States. 

Miranda Simes
Equity Metrics

What I’ve really loved about the fellowship are the people—my fellow fellows, our mentors, and everyone affiliated at the Institute. I came to the fellowship excited to get involved with research related to physical space and inclusion but little did I know that one of the most valuable parts of the fellowship was the inclusive physical space of the long table in room 470 where we sat. The energy that everyone brought to their individual projects overflowed into the collective space we all shared. Sometimes this was a space for quiet work, sometimes a space for a heated discussion of the ideology of whiteness. But most of all a space to listen and grow and support one another.

Taliah Mirmalek
Election Research fellow

This summer, we all sat around a wooden table, clicking, writing, and reading away. But, every hour, something—a news article, a thought, a fellow walking into the room—would spark conversation. Beyond just writing lit reviews, I ended up learning about the protests in Bangladesh from Adiba, Carnival and policing from Onisha, San Francisco gentrification from Anetra. For our fellows-organized field trip, we decided collectively that we wanted to specifically meet with people of color-led organizations. Through my research on the program, I learned about how political campaign “experts” (so-called) categorize entire communities—often communities of color and/or low-income people of all backgrounds—as “low propensity voters,” and, accordingly, completely ignore them.

Anetra Brown
California Community Partnerships

Spending 20 hours a week with this cohort of fellows has been life-changing. Throughout the summer we all shared similar narratives about how refreshing it was to be surrounded by people who understand your experience as a person of color doing social justice work. Most of us came from university communities that weren’t very diverse and we always felt the extra weight of proving ourselves in those spaces. At the Haas Institute, we found a safe space to be ourselves, challenge our pre-existing beliefs and doing meaningful work. 

Michael Xu
Law fellow

This past summer has been challenging and eye-opening. As an international student, political law has always been a remote subject to me. Without any prior institutional knowledge, I was assigned to work on a major research project on political and racial gerrymandering. It forces me to think about the incomplete nature of our democratic system and the importance of exercising one’s voting rights especially in the current political environment. Aside from dipping my toes in exciting areas of law, the highlight of my summer is definitely the opportunity to work alongside a group of fantastic human beings. Being able to get to know them, laugh with them and forever call them my friends has been a true blessing.