Bates student wins fellowship to study in The Netherlands

Jason Surdukowski, a Bates College sophomore from Concord, N.H., has been named a 2000 Humanity In Action (HIA) Fellow for five weeks of intensive study in the United States and The Netherlands on historic and contemporary resistance to human rights violations.

The New York City-based human rights organization HIA, in association with Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, provides travel and accommodations for 20 U.S. college students to study the protection of European Jews during World War II; contemporary threats to the rights of minorities; and the cultural, religious and social conditions that provoke people to act with moral decency when faced with evil.

All fellows begin their study on May 30 with three days of seminars at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. From there, half of the fellows travel to Denmark and half travel to The Netherlands to join host families and begin 10 days of study, research and writing on the two countries’ history during World War II and current tensions between their majority and minority populations. The research part of the program culminates on July 1, when the fellows convene in The Netherlands to discuss their experiences and share their written reports, which will be published in the 2000 Report of Humanity In Action.

Through May 2001, HIA Fellows are expected to engage their campuses in discussions of human rights by hosting a series of presentations based on their research. In addition to giving a talk on his fellowship, Surdukowski plans on producing a body of paintings and poems for display in Bates’ Chase Hall gallery to convey the scope and destruction of human rights abuses and the power of courage in the face of hatred.

Surdukowski says he was drawn to the HIA program by a personal desire to understand the underlying causes of hate and to learn how to enlist others in a campaign to eradicate intolerance.

“I humbly hope that I can inch a few steps closer toward enlightenment about the pathology of evil and what can be done to foster resistance in my life and in the lives of those I see it as my mission to reach,” Surdukowski said. “I can vaccinate myself against the world’s sickness of minority rights abuse, but what good is that if it stays just in my system? I must pass the good medicine along.”

HIA selected 2000 fellows from Bates, Amherst, Swarthmore and Reed colleges as well as Harvard, Tufts, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale on the basis of their leadership potential, academic achievement and interest in human rights.

At Bates, Surdukowski is president of the student Representative Assembly (RA), serving as the chief student liaison with the college’s administration with responsibility for writing the RA’s operating budget. Prior to being elected president, Surdukowski served as vice president of the RA, overseeing the appointment of students to 19 college committees, including the Student Conduct Committee, Honors Committee and Educational Policy Committee. Since 1998, he has represented the Bates Class of 2002 on the Advisory Committee to Bates President Donald W. Harward.

Surdukowski, a dean’s list student and Charles A. Dana Scholar at Bates, has been an intern in the college’s museum of art, coordinating community participation in an interactive exhibition “Christian Boltanski: The Loss of Innocence.” He also has produced a Theater at Bates production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.”

Surdukowski, of 11 Tahanto St., Concord, N.H., is a 1998 graduate of Concord High School.

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