My name is Tabara Sy and I started my internship position at Tostan on the Global Mobilization Team this week! I am an incoming undergraduate senior at New York University studying social & cultural analysis with a focus on African studies. I am also doing my minor in politics and journalism. As someone who spent a good amount of time in Senegal with my family, I am passionate about the history of West Africans, studying the  postcolonial patterns of migration and cultural, political, socioeconomic, and environmental development within this region. Within my academic and professional career, I hope to tie in all of these interests and disciplines together to continue my never ending journey of learning and providing for my community.

My summer internship at Tostan is supported by NYU Gallatin Global Fellowship in Human Rights, which is a highly selective program that allows fellow undergrad and graduate students in the university to take on the full experience of human rights work. I completed a human rights seminar as a fellow in this program to help guide me and inform me on different human rights injustices throughout the world and the many forms it takes. Fellows of the NYU Gallatin Global program are encouraged to guide their summer projects to their own interests and academic paths. I chose Senegal/West Africa as my regional focus to reconnect with my community here while also proposing solutions and making an impact in any way that I can, through my time at Tostan.

For one, I chose Tostan because I believe that every single person of any race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, etc. deserve equal opportunity and a leveled playing ground to work from. Just like most African countries, Senegal’s independence is very new and is still as a country recovering from the atrocities of colonialism. The protection of human rights for all, continues to be fragile, as new leaders and regimes take their positions and how power is used.

I was particularly drawn to Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) because it is an outlet that allows natives to learn about their entitled human rights, as well as supporting each other through effective dialogue and acting on their human rights, as a community. The state of human rights clashes in Senegal now are lingering from the French colonial rule and is sustained by a flawed leadership and education system. By prioritizing education, Tostan’s role in the community is actively shifting that trajectory and giving less fortunate people the opportunities that may not have been available to them, otherwise. This is the change I want to be a part of, for my country.