This article originally appeared in the University Record on March 9, 2015.
Architecture student Bjørnar Haveland will be awarded the 2015 Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship that will support his yearlong study of two of the world’s oldest refugee camps, and help him develop ways to improve the quality of life in the settlements.
Established three years ago, the $25,000 fellowship is awarded each spring to an exceptional graduating senior at U-M who is committed to service and the public good.
Haveland plans to use his fellowship to travel to refugee camps in Resheideh, Lebanon, and Dadaab, Kenya. He became interested in the settlements while volunteering with the Norwegian Peace Corps for three months at a camp in Algeria.
“I want to interact meaningfully by wholeheartedly participating in daily life, by contributing where I have skills to share and to learn from the people around me,” Haveland said in his application essay. “Ultimately, I hope what I learn will allow me and others I share my experiences with to engage in work that will improve people’s living conditions.”
The fellowship honors Raoul Wallenberg, who worked as a Swedish diplomat after earning a degree in architecture at U-M in 1935. He is credited with saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives in Budapest during the Holocaust.
Melissa Harris, who wrote a recommendation letter for Haveland, said he has poise and diplomacy beyond his years. “He is self-motivated, curious, open and best of all, not frenetic or tattooed to technology. He is a humanist of sorts. He values the face-to-face discussion over just about everything,” said Harris, an associate professor at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
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Note: As of 2020, the U-M Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship no longer accepts project proposals surrounding refugees or refugee camps and settlements. Questions about this policy can be directed to email@example.com.