Southern alumna Daisha Brabham ’17, a Fulbright scholar studying for a Master’s of Public History degree at Royal Holloway University of London, has been awarded the Barzun Prize for Youth Engagement, which grants $10,000 to a Fulbright grantee to develop a program that works with youth.
The award — the brainchild of Former U.S. Ambassador Matthew Barzun and his wife Brooke, with generous funding from them — is awarded annually to fund projects by American Fulbrighters to deliver local community projects while they study in the United Kingdom.
Former Ambassador Barzun said, “The indispensable US-UK bond isn’t a treaty between London to Washington, but is made of millions of caring and committed relationships across the ocean and across generations. Its staying power depends on these ‘sinews of peace’ as Churchill called them, not only on Number 10 or 1600 Pennsylvania.
“Fulbright has for decades helped build and nurture special relationships, one by one, which is why Brooke and I are so proud to support it in any way we can. These award winners take time out of their already busy academic pursuits to make new connections with the next generation, and for that we are so grateful.”
Brabham graduated from Southern in 2017 with a degree in history, and her passion for her discipline, along with her scholarship and creative activity, are taking her far. Her Fulbright project involves a play she wrote for an independent study in the Women’s Studies Program in her senior year. During her senior spring and the summer following, the play — Homegoing: A Herstory of the Black Woman — was performed on campus, and Brabham later reworked the script and produced it on campus again last spring. Homegoing reflects the history of black womanhood in America, beginning with the Yoruba tradition of West Africa and going on to travel with a number of different African American women, such as Venus Hottentot, Billie Holiday, and Mammie.
On learning she had received the Barzun Prize, Brabham remarked, “I’m actually speechless. . . . My play has operated on a budget of $200.00, thanks to the amazing community partners of New Haven! Imagine what this play can do with 10,000!”
In London, Brabham is incorporating voices from black Britain into the play as part of her Fulbright project. As a student at Royal Holloway, she has access to the National Archives, the London Records Office, and the Black Cultural Archives.
For her application for the Barzun Prize, Brabham was required to submit a three-minute video along with a written proposal to explain her project, which she calls the Homegoing Internship. The internship will be available to students in the UK during Brabham’s Fulbright year.
As part of this proposed internship, Brabham wrote in her proposal, “Students will embark on a two and a half month journey of developing and producing a two-hour production based on the history of black women. Each student will be assigned a department in which they will complete a total of two workshops run by a local community partner who will serve as an expert during their first month. The second month will involve students producing the play.”
She further explains that the internship’s objectives include: developing leadership skills such as organization, problem solving, communication, and innovation; gaining valuable experience on project management skills such as managing a set budget; gaining an appreciation for historical knowledge, specifically the history of black women; engaging in cross-cultural discussions surrounding the African diaspora and US-UK relations with a historical context; and understanding the importance and value of utilizing local community resources.
Barzun was appointed by President Obama in 2013 as the American Ambassador to the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom. He served in this position for three years and during his time in the UK made it his mission to spend as much time as possible out of London speaking to young people. He engaged actively with the work of the Fulbright Commission, greeting the new American Fulbright Scholars on their arrival in the UK each year. On leaving, he and his wife wanted to give the US-UK Commission a gift that would speak to their time in the UK and create a lasting legacy.
Brabham is grateful not only to be a 2019 Barzun Prize winner but also for all the support she received while a student at Southern, and she credits the university for helping her move forward with her project. She says, “A special thanks to the beautiful, talented and inspiring students who inspired the internship and all the support we have had from The City of New Haven and Southern Connecticut State University!”