As the growing refugee crisis continues to make headlines worldwide, Tracey Emin is taking a powerful stance in support of those forced by war and political instability to leave their homes. The British artist is one of five private donors who have agreed to provide a full, four-year scholarship to Bard College Berlin to a refugee student from Syria and other troubled regions of the world.
“I want to help and try to make things better, but in a way in which I know I can. If just one student makes it through that course and does something great with their life, for me it’s all been worth it,” Emin told the Art Newspaper. “I love being an artist, I love my work, and when I see the atrocities taking place in this world, I realize how lucky I am.”
It is the second year for the scholarship program, titled “Program for International Education and Social Change,” which welcomed four Syrian students in the 2016-17 school year. Moving forward, three of the five scholarships will be specifically for Syrians.
“The intellectual commitment and artistic achievements of the four Syrian refugee students who began their studies at Bard College Berlin last summer have heightened political awareness at a college that has its foundation in connecting education with the values of a free, open and pluralistic society,” said Bard College Berlin dean Catherine Toal in a statement.
Applicants for the fall must be forced migrants or refugees in need of full financial support who are proven academic achievers and are proficient English speakers. According to the the school, they are also “expected to have a strong record of community engagement and a well-articulated social mission, which they intend to pursue during their studies and in future.”
Emin and the other donors (philanthropist Nina Baroness von Maltzahn, Belgian gallerist Xavier Hufkens, and two anonymous givers) are each putting up €80,000 ($85,500), while matching funds from the university, which is merged with Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and will cover the rest of the €120,000 ($128,000) cost of four years’ study. Upon graduation, scholarship students will earn a dual American and German bachelors degree.
“Bard has a long and proud history as a haven for refugees, first in the 1930s and again after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956,” said Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, in a statement. “I believe that Bard must sustain its commitment to the principle of non-discrimination by reason of race, religion, or national identity.”
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