Independent Study Project Takes Dartmouth Senior to Africa


Samoneh Kadivar, a ’10 hailing from Shiraz, Iran, loves the intricacies of biology, but a recent independent study project showcases her talent and passion for social justice. She spent the fall of 2009 in Mozambique, researching some of the heaviest subject matter around.

Kadivar, a biology modified with philosophy major, worked with a friend, Reggie Schickel ’09 from Charlotte, N.C., to create a documentary and work on a research paper on child trafficking, talking to Mozambican children who had been trafficked and abused.


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Kadivar on location in Mozambique at a garbage dump called Bukaria, where many families find food and scraps to sell. (courtesy Samoneh Kadivar ’10)

Kadivar started the project with a long history of volunteerism behind her. During her freshman summer, she went to Rwanda with funding from Dartmouth’s Tucker Foundation to work with Sisters of Rwanda, an organization that helps women who were forced into sex work as a result of the genocide. While there, she also volunteered with Orphans of Rwanda, an organization that helps orphaned children receive scholarships to attend university. (Schickel also received funding from the Tucker Foundation during his undergraduate career.)


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Kadivar and Schickel on the beach in Maputo, the largest city in Mozambique, where they were filming b-roll footage for their documentary. (courtesy of Samoneh Kadivar ’10)

She then spent a month traveling to the Congo, northern Rwanda, and Burundi with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, assessing violence levels between Hutus and Tutsis in refugee camps. This past summer, she went to Charlotte, N.C. on a Robinson Grant from Dartmouth’s Career Services Department. Along with Schickel, she created and taught a workshop on documentary film making to underprivileged students at West Charlotte High School.

Kadivar is now in the process of writing a research paper on her experience in Mozambique, and her independent study is under the direction of Assistant Professor of History George R. Trumbull IV, who has been her mentor throughout the project. Her host for this project was SANTAC, the South Africa Regional Network Against Trafficking and Abuse of Children.

“Having done the field work raises a lot of questions about child trafficking and trafficking in general that I am trying to answer in my independent study course,” Kadivar said. “My focus is to answer these questions while presenting the cases of trafficking I encountered.”

Trumbull says that Kadivar generated the idea for the project entirely on her own, making this a truly independent study project. His role as her advisor has been to act as a sounding board, providing immediate feedback, and to help her “figure out how, exactly, she will frame the excellent contributions she is making,” he said.

“Samoneh’s independence, intelligence, and commitment ensured her success in the project from the day she proposed it. She does not shy away from challenges or risks, and the difficulties of a project such as this one seem only to have strengthened her resolve to make a contribution,” Trumbull said.

Kadivar received the primary funding for her work from Dartmouth’s John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Advising. The African and African-American Studies Program and the History Department contributed additional funding for camera equipment.

Mozambique was chosen as the location for the project for a number of factors. It has a recent history of natural disaster and civil war, making it particularly vulnerable to crimes such as trafficking. Mozambique’s proximity to South Africa was another draw; the 2010 World Cup is being held in South Africa, and it was reported that trafficking rates in Europe increased dramatically during the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

“The two main focuses of the project were to investigate the structural factors of Mozambique that make it vulnerable to child trafficking, and to investigate the effects the upcoming World Cup will have,” Kadivar said.

Her experience in Mozambique has had a lasting impression on Kadivar, who says the most difficult aspect of the project was the emotion and vulnerability involved.

“It’s really amazing to see how dynamic and resilient children can be,” she said. “Many of the children have gone through so many awful things, and yet they still have hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor, teacher, or advocate. Their unwavering determination to overcome their struggles is a beautiful thing to witness.”

Grace Kouba