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Mark, from Kingsburg, California, majored in Political Philosophy and did quite well at
Princeton. He engaged in some interesting projects, most notably as a human rights intern in the West Bank, working on the social and political effects of the Israeli occupation and the Israeli/Palestinian boycotts.


Mark's project was to work for the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture. The Program provides medical and mental health care, as well as social and legal services to survivors of torture and war traumas in other countries, including helping them seek asylum in the U.S. This well-regarded Program, which has won numerous
awards over the years, has helped people from 80 different countries, such as Tibet and many areas of Africa.


Part of Mark's task was to enhance existing programs, especially by teaching ESL and tutoring patients in basic computer skills. He developed a sustainable pool of long-term volunteers for such key duties as interpreting. He also initiated a new cultural adjustment program to provide aid to these torture victims in such basic needs as
opening bank accounts, changing post office addresses, and navigating the city, as well as exposing them to museums, concerts and other NYC cultural offerings. Mark collected data on the outcome of providing these services to enable the organization to evaluate how well the program is working and to fine tune it for the future.


The Director of the Program is Allen S. Keller, M.D., who periodically teaches at Princeton (as a visiting lecturer) a course on Health and Human Rights. Like many non-profits today, the Program has been facing financial difficulties. According to
Dr. Keller, Mark’s project was “an important one, which greatly benefited our Program, and is one that we would not otherwise have been able to implement because of lack of funding.”

Mark Buettner,

Class of 2009

Mark received high praise from the professor who advised his junior tutorial work. "Mark is smart and thoughtful and very engaged with questions of justice, both national and international….He writes beautifully, with unusual clarity and a certain elegance.…Mark also struck me as very mature in his judgment and his engagements….” 

The City Manager of Fresno, California, for whom Mark worked as a research director, said that "he proved himself to be an extraordinary young man….[He] displayed outstanding organizational skills….I believe Mark has all the qualities and skills needed for an outstanding career in public service."

In Mark’s words, “I believe strongly in this Program’s objectives to address the complex needs of tortured survivors,” and “[my] proposal would expand upon the already existing services of the Program and combat isolation and culture shock of recently arrived torture patients.” 

Mark contacted us recently and said: “Since the fellowship, I've been working at Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago (CRFC). CRFC is a law-related education nonprofit organization in Chicago that aims to equip non-lawyers with knowledge and skills pertaining to the law, the legal process, and the legal system. In particular, I work with elementary and secondary schools to develop critical thinking skills, civic participation, and commitment to the rule of law among young people.

“The bulk of my work is in Chicago, but CRFC recently expanded one of our projects to Latin America. The project is designed to promote the teaching and learning of democratic principles among a new generation in Latin America. It was modeled after a similar program we successfully carried out in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Azerbaijan.

“My time with Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture (PSOT) under the ReachOut 56/81 fellowship prepared me for this role. As a fellow at PSOT, I found that one of the most valuable tools our program could provide our clients was access to the law. My new job lets me work toward this objective every day with the students we serve. I hope to one day get a law degree and work in refugee/asylum law. Without the ReachOut 56/81 fellowship, I may not have cultivated such an interest in this field. I am very grateful for the way RO56/81 has shaped my career trajectory.”

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