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2012-2013 FELLOWSHIP

Daniela Anderson, Bard College
Tracing Leprosy
Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Thailand, Brazil
Leprosy is an ancient disease that, despite its being curable, continues to afflict millions of people in the world. I want to follow the path of leprosy from East Africa to South Asia and South America, volunteering in leprosy clinics, leprosariums, and leprosy relief agencies where I will learn how the local histories and current interpretations of leprosy interface with clinical treatment of the disease. I want to experience what it means to provide clinical care for patients in these different parts of the world and learn about what steps must be taken to eradicate the disease in each place.

Miyuki Baker, Swarthmore College
Visibly Queer: Exploring the Intersections of Art and Activism
Morocco, Netherlands, Argentina, Singapore, Australia, South Korea, India
Making art is a way to physically merge visual cultures together, and to call people into action. In queer communities around the world, art - whatever the form may be - film, dance, poetry, painting, is being created in large numbers in an effort to increase visibility, combat homophobia and achieve equal rights. My Watson year will explore the art making of queer communities in seven countries. Why is a certain media of artistic expression chosen over another, and are these decisions enhanced or altered by the social and political environments or historical traditions of a country? By engaging in cultural intersections, I hope to learn the implications of being visibly queer.

Maya Barlev, Haverford College
Eyes on the Stars, Feet on the Ground: How Children Around the World Perceive the Universe
Chile, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand
Our Universe, in all of its complexity and beauty, has inspired people throughout history to wonder about our individual context within a larger scheme. Children have a unique kind of perception and imagination, and therefore have the potential to offer innovative and creative views of our Universe. In connecting with children and the adults in their communities, I hope to bridge the gap between academic science and pure imagination.

Sylvia Barrows, Sewanee: The University of the South
Playing to Learn and Learning to Play: An Exploration of Play Utilized in Education
United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, South Africa, India
Combining my innate curiosity with a passion for education, my Watson project explores two things that were never related in my rigid upbringing, play and school. To further understand how play manifests itself in school and how it can be used in the classroom, I choose three philosophies, Waldorf, Reggio, and Democratic/Holistic, on account of their beliefs in the benefits of play. My mother is a pre-school teacher, and within the walls of her classroom, I have seen the rewards of play, fostering problem solving, imagination, creativity, and democracy. I believe that play, a seemingly simple act, has astounding benefits, and I would like to see how these philosophies utilize it as a learning tool. How will a student's education change if he/she continues playing?

Wyatt Blankenship, Hendrix College
A Detour by Way of the Beehive: Traditional Apiculture in a Changing World
United Kingdom, Tanzania, Egypt, India, Russia
For my Watson year I will learn the traditions of five distinct beekeeping cultures and examine how they are being shaped by the forces affecting apiculture in the twenty-first century. I will search for an ancient subspecies of honey bee in Egypt, work with killer bees in Tanzania, and climb to beehives in century old trees in Russia. Furthermore, I will trace the traditions of Britain from skepping to natural beekeeping and learn how to work with three different honey-producing species in India. While convening with beekeepers and honey bees in each country I will explore the human-bee relationship as a broader metaphor for how people relate to nature, study how cultures maintain local beekeeping traditions, and document methods and ideologies that could deliver modern apiculture from its current state of distress.

Peter Buhler, California Institute of Technology
Extreme Life
Canada, Spain, Chile
Over the 4.5 billion years since the Earth formed, a variety of weird and extreme life forms have sprung up. I will explore the fossils of bizarre life in Canada, modern microbes that live in water as acidic as vinegar in the Rio Tinto, Spain, and discover if life can eke out an existence in the salt flats of the Atacama Desert. As I explore these extreme creatures I will also delve into the human history: the indigenous people of Canada who regard the fossils as their ancestors and the miners who have survived the extreme conditions of the Rio Tinto and Atacama.

Eric Chang, California Institute of Technology
Building to Prosperity: Bringing Sustainability to the Masses
China, India, Taiwan
More than half of the world's population lives in Asia whose population only continues to grow. This demand will require millions of offices, schools, and homes to be constructed and renovated. Green buildings can satisfy this growth while at the same time reduce our impact on carbon pollution. Traveling to China, India, and Taiwan, I will study how sustainable principles can be pushed into the market and implemented on a large scale to meet Asia's and the world's appetite for housing. To gain a complete picture of the global building industry, I will examine this question from several different perspectives: technological, governmental, corporate, and civic.

Jamie Drillette, Colorado College
Religious Clash in Education: The Role of Christian Schools in Developing Nations
Honduras, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania
I will travel to Honduras, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania to better understand the dialogue between culture and education and how that dialogue is shaped when education is provided by outside influences, specifically Christian ministries. I will work both with missionary established schools and with local public schools. Through this, I will observe different communities' reception of these schools in considering the balance between the needs and values of local communities and those of outside influences brought to bear on education in those communities.

Carson Duffy, Rhodes College
All for One & One for All: Leadership Through Community Building in Divided Societies
Chile, India, United Kingdom, South Africa
I intend to explore community building efforts in the post-conflict societies of Chile, India, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. I will immerse myself in the community building strategies within these nations while also interviewing members of these communities about their perceptions of past violence and the reconciliation efforts that have followed. Furthermore, as I wrestle with understanding the relationship between the individual and the community, I hope to further navigate the manifestation of leadership through the process of community building.

Zach Duffy, Whitman College
Recovering A Lost Generation: How Nations Help Unemployed Youth Into The Workforce
Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, United Kingdom
The aftermath of any economic downturn is characterized by widespread misery, but no group is more adversely affected by unemployment than youth. In particularly painful downturns, young people's career prospects are so slim that they are often termed, in the words of Gertrude Stein, "a lost generation." Over the course of my Watson year, I will examine approaches to reducing unemployment in seven countries in order to better understand how the formation of a lost generation can be prevented.

Charlotte Fagan, Macalester College
Pedaling Towards Empowerment: Exploring Women's Bike Movements
China, Indonesia, Hungary, Sierra Leone, Guatemala
Susan B. Anthony once said that she would stand and salute when she saw a woman ride by on a bicycle - "the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood." My project builds on these ideas of female empowerment by exploring women's bike movements in China, Indonesia, Hungary, Sierra Leone, and Guatemala. During my project I will work with both formal bike non-profits, and informal women's bike collectives. I am interested in understanding how women are personally, politically, and economically empowered through participating in bike movements and cultures.

Elizabeth Gilmartin, Wellesley College
The Power of Education to Change Lives: An Exploratory Odyssey
South Africa, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, United Kingdom
As a Watson Fellow, I will traverse Africa, Asia and Europe to seek out some exceptional learning communities that aim to help young people overcome the obstacles they face due to social stigma of the caste system, learning and physical disabilities, or gender discrimination. Through cross-cultural dialogues with teachers, students, school administrators and public intellectuals, I will examine the lived experiences of the students striving to acquire meaningful and fulfilling lives while also gaining greater insights into my own identity as a dyslexic.

Adam Goldberg, Wheaton College
Buddhism Breathes: How Peace is Pursued in the Heart of Suffering
Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia, Thailand
Conflict can bring out the darkest aspects of humanity, invoking fear, anger and hatred. As a Watson Fellow, I will live and work alongside communities that are using Buddhism as a vehicle for social change. I will travel to Sri Lanka, India, Cambodia and Thailand to see how suffering can be transformed into healing and growth. Ultimately, I hope to learn how Buddhism takes different forms to address local needs, culture and understanding.

Spencer Gulbronson, Hamilton College
The Universal Language: Exploring Creative Approaches to Math Education
South Africa, Bolivia, India, Finland
In our increasingly complex and technological society, strong foundations in science, engineering, technology, and mathematics disciplines are imperative to technological literacy, sophisticated problem solving, and equal opportunity. I propose to examine the role of math education in an economically and culturally diverse range of countries. I will volunteer in classrooms, help with extracurricular math programs, and attend conferences, meetings, and workshops. My project asks if an emphasis on science and technology applications encourages an increased focus on math education.

Audrey Gyurgyik, Davidson College
Body and Soul: A Holistic Approach to Actor Training
Tibet, Brazil, Serbia, Italy
I will explore the following questions: In what ways does the physical body serve as a vehicle to access emotion, free-flow of impulses, and the subtler soul? How do different cultures explore this notion? And how is this work then translated for or useful to actors- to those interested in effectively communicating the human condition to an audience? I will travel to Tibet, Brazil, Serbia and Italy to learn about different physical-spiritual practices and the ways in which certain theatre companies have incorporated them as an integral part of their creative processes.

Erin Islo, Haverford College
It's a Hard-Knock Life: the Sociopolitical Space of Orphans Across Cultures
Kazakhstan, Uganda, Ecuador, Germany
Orphans are confronted with an array of obstacles, from social stigmatization to the lack of a network of support that is crucial for success upon entering adulthood. This project will consider the lives of parentless children in different cultures and explore the way children's homes are interwoven with local communities, cultural standards and political structures, among other things. The perspectival lens of this project is saliently philosophical and will consider the theoretical tendons that connect children without guardians, their states, and communities.

Romina Istratii, Bates College
Meeting the "Voiceless": Understanding How Women Can Transform Food-insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa
Senegal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda
Women have always been associated with growth and fertility. In sub-Saharan Africa this statement could not be truer: women sustain the household, bring food to the table, transport fuels and rear children. Most importantly, they cultivate the household farm and generate income. Although constrained by gender-biases and customary norms, women manage to ensure the livelihood of their families. With my Watson I wish to investigate how women in Africa battle poverty and malnutrition in their routine and whether better access for women in agricultural markets can translate into less food-insecurity in the continent.

Lilia Kilburn, Amherst College
Words Apart: Representing Global Debate in Local Communities
Ghana, Cameroon, Singapore, Qatar, New Zealand
Bolstered by the status of English as a lingua franca, new organizations join the existing alphabet soup of English-language debating leagues each year. In my Watson year, I seek to explore the often-unexpected results of debate's encounters with indigenous spoken traditions. As a participant as well as an observer, and using varied media, I will travel to countries where the activity has flourished so as to document local interpretations of parliamentary debate and the wider landscapes of speech in which they inhere. By posting my own and others' words and images online, I will produce a collaborative compilation of debate's subtleties and surprises across the world.

Gabriel Loewinger, Pitzer College
Kicking the Habit: Handcuffs, Needles, Roots, and Brews
United Kingdom, Canada, Brazil, Peru
Drug addiction plagues people worldwide, but rehabilitation approaches vary widely across countries and cultures. During my Watson, I will study four treatment modalities in Scotland, Canada, Brazil, and Peru that fall under two categories: therapies that utilize drug policies to facilitate addict recovery and rehabilitation programs that use traditional hallucinogens to reduce withdrawal and integrate spiritual and psychological exploration into therapy. This journey will allow me to study approaches to treat addiction and delve into questions about how addiction is formed and broken from a wide range of cultural, medical, and philosophical perspectives.

William Meadows, Lawrence University
Humanity's Vessel: The Art and Ecology of Canoes
Peru, Solomon Islands, Tanzania
Canoes lie at the intersection of human ingenuity and place. They are vessels for exploration, artistic expression, and sustenance. On the Watson odyssey, I will immerse myself in canoe-building communities across five distinct eco-regions. I will study canoe craft, canoe culture, and how canoes are tied to their local ecosystems. I would like to see how ancient traditions are surviving in this rapidly changing world.

Irami Mercado, Wheaton College
The Power of People to Change Lives: An Exploration of the World's YMCAs
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, Senegal,
As a Watson Fellow, I will explore the YMCAs in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Scotland and Senegal. I will enter the lives of those who seek out the varied services of the Y - learning through observations and conversation what the Y has given them: food, shelter, the will to survive. I would like to work together with YMCA staff and volunteers to discover each culture's particular method of supporting and empowering youth, and by extension, the community. Having the opportunity to enter the lives of those who seek out the varied services of the Y will allow me to collect many different Y stories.

Wadzanai Motsi, Grinnell College
Speaking Up: Unearthing the Motivation for Youth Political Activism
Tunisia, Ghana, Czech Republic, Cambodia
I am proposing to travel to Tunisia, Ghana, the Czech Republic and Cambodia, learning about the motivation for political activism amongst students and youth. I plan to visit these countries as they gear up towards national elections. My objective is to attend student union meetings, work with youth organizations, visit political spaces and converse with people about why youth have become involved in the political arena. The focus of my project is to examine why young people are politically active and why they have chosen specific avenues to express their views.

Grace Ogilby, Carleton College
Breaking the Silence: An Exploration in Women's Oratory and Activism
South Africa, India, Liberia, Nicaragua
The human voice has the incredible power to engage, to inspire, and to move listeners to action, particularly nonviolent action. For my Watson Fellowship I will work alongside women harnessing the power of their own voices in order to change their communities. I will join women's activist organizations in South Africa, India, Liberia and Nicaragua and learn how women from different cultures use the spoken word to spread their messages, mobilize their supporters and promote nonviolence.

Lindsay Olsen, Williams College
The International Fisherman: Cross-Cultural Themes of Global Fishing Communities
New Zealand, Indonesia, Norway, Faroe Islands
Providing vital sustenance for much of the world, commercial fishermen have developed practices, traditions, and lore specific to their region and hold a unique perspective on the ocean. By traveling to New Zealand, Indonesia, Norway, and the Faroe Islands, I will investigate the commonalities between fishing cultures. I ask, despite regional differences in techniques or challenges, is there an international identity of commercial fishermen? What similarities in character, legend, or practice do men and women of this occupation share, and how are they embraced by their coastal communities?

Cheng Peng, Vassar College
In Search of Somatic Enlightenment: Asian Body Philosophy in Modern Dance
Taiwan, Malaysia, Spain, United Kingdom
During my Watson year, I will study with prominent choreographers who integrate Asian body philosophies into modern dance. Besides dancing with them, I will also shoot a documentary to explore their philosophies from an objective perspective. Furthermore, through my documentary, I will investigate how artists disseminate modern dance among local community. I will interview local audience about their relationship to modern dance and the influence of dance on people's daily lives. My Watson project is both a personal artistic pursuit and a critical study of cultural globalization.

Rachael Petersen, Rice University
Media at the Margins: Indigenous Peoples' Use of Technology as a Tool of Sovereignty
Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Malaysia, and Australia
Many people experience a sort of cognitive dissonance when they hear "indigenous" and "technology" in the same sentence. Fetishizing images of native peoples frame them as "primitive tribes" stuck in the past. But indigenous peoples are fighting back against these misguided assumptions. They are now seeking to bridge the digital divide on their own terms by implementing technological initiatives within their communities. My project will examine how indigenous communities are harnessing digital tools to assert their cultural identity and sovereignty around the world.

Laura Podd, Hendrix College
Extraordinary Bodies: Perceptions of Disability in the Developing World
Romania, Thailand, El Salvador
Who helps the disabled in nations where the government does not or cannot? In the absence of government support, religious charities have taken on much of the burden of providing care for abandoned and impoverished disabled citizens and advocating for disability rights. Through studying how charities work to improve the lives of the disabled in nations where they are seen as burdens, I propose to gain practical knowledge about how charities work to help members of the disabled community in the developing world.

Dean Pospisil, Pitzer College
Art and Neuroscience: Feeling and Knowing
Italy, India, Bhutan
I will engage in two traditional arts through the neuroscientific and artistic lens: classical methods of sketching in Italy, and Buddhist Thangka paintings, used as meditative aids in India. Measuring the electrical activity of the brain and learning their artistic processes, I hope to come to a richer understanding of how these traditions influence the brain and perception. Through the inspiration provided by these contexts I will explore how the intersection of art and neuroscience holds promise for continuing the artistic tradition of deepening experience.

Yiyuan Qin, Colby College
In Search of a Shared Future: Where the River Fairies Were
Switzerland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Peru, Brazil, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia
As humans become increasingly sophisticated at altering natural systems to control and harness their power, modern rivers are dammed, constrained, diverted, and dumped in, risking a shared future for ourselves and other living beings. I will journey along four rivers of the world to explore the interactions between different human communities and their rivers through four remarkable river species: the Rhine in Europe where the Atlantic salmon migrate, the Amazon in South America where the pink dolphins play, the Mekong in Southeast Asia where the giant catfish roam, and the Murray-Darling in Australia where the Murray cod travel.

Zaheena Rasheed, Middlebury College
Profiles of Courage and the Craft of Nonviolent Action
Chile, South Africa, Serbia, Egypt
People all around the world are embracing disciplined nonviolence, from Egyptians in Tahrir Square to Americans on Wall Street. Despite studying nonviolent movements extensively, and recognizing that nonviolent campaigns demonstrate higher rates of success than violent campaigns, I am only beginning to understand the skills and courage it takes to organize nonviolent action. I want to help Maldivians, myself included, find the courage to speak up for their rights and stay vigilant as new issues emerge in democratic transition. I propose to spend the Watson year in four countries that have waged very successful nonviolent movements against entrenched dictatorships: Chile (1988), South Africa (1994), Serbia (2000) and Egypt (2011). My goals are two-fold: to experience firsthand the day-to-day organizational and operational considerations of a nonviolent movement, and to be inspired by and document stories of individual courage.

Ellen Richmond, Amherst College
The Herd Shot 'Round the World: Pastoral Writing in the 21st Century
Ethiopia, Argentina, Australia
For my Watson year I will live among pastoral communities in Ethiopia, Argentina, and Australia, integrating myself into their lifestyles to observe how they have adapted to the pressures of the modern world alongside their herds. I will express what I learn about their unique relationships to landscape and livestock through poems and nonfiction essays. My goal is to capture the realities of the lives of true herdsmen, rather than the romanticized ideals typical of the pastoral mode in literature, through the continued development of my creative voice.

Aaron Rutz, Sewanee: The University of the South
Constructing the Dramatic Spirit: Life and Creative Process in Ensemble Theatre
United Kingdom, Argentina, Isle of Man, Canada, France, Ireland
Theatre Ensembles are groups crafting their work with a commitment to a permanent collective membership. I propose to visit such groups to further my understanding of how a common life and common theatrical vocabulary nurtures and heightens dramatic enterprise. I will live and work among theatre ensembles, with the eagerness of a pilgrim, searching for the energy that inspires the incredible flourishing of these kinds of groups in the last decades. Theatre practice embeds itself wherever humans gather, and I will make it my anchor for exploring the broader world.

Veerasak Srisuknimit, Harvey Mudd College
Where is the Other Half? Exploring the Connections among Unicycling, Cultures and Science
Italy, Ghana, India, Brazil, Japan
Unicycles are more than just bicycles with a missing wheel. Without gears, brakes, or handles, unicycles free their riders to enjoy the thrill of balancing in all possible ways. Though humans have known how to ride on one wheel for over a century, unicycling has enjoyed its rise in popularity only recently. I intend to investigate what causes some people to ride a unicycle and others not to. I will explore how the decision to unicycle is affected by cultures and people's understanding of physics.

Maeve Sutherland, Ursinus College
Peaceable Kingdoms: Pacifist Communities and the Quest for Utopia
Costa Rica, Peru, Netherlands, India, Bhutan, Australia
By living, working, and creating art with pacifist communities in Costa Rica, Peru, the Netherlands, India, Bhutan, and Australia I will engage with groups who are working toward creating what they each consider to be the ideal nonviolent society. I hope to challenge my belief system by placing myself in situations where I am forced to reconsider what is "ideal" and to embrace the subjectivity of that idea.

Niki Tomita, Carleton College
Following the Torch: Around the World with Special Olympics
Namibia, Thailand, Morocco, Ecuador
Shame, anger, pride, or joy? I will use the Special Olympics as a gateway into understanding varying perceptions of intellectual disabilities around the world. I will take advantage of my language and coaching experience to meet the athletes and their families so that I can better appreciate the cultural climates in Thailand, Namibia, Morocco, and Ecuador.

Cara Tratner, Wesleyan University
Overcoming Exclusion: Community-Based Educational Alternatives
Peru, Guatemala, Ghana, Uganda, India
In the attempt to provide universal education, school systems often value standardization over cultural diversity, leaving entire communities excluded. In the face of this imposed model, educators around the world are working to create spaces for an alternative kind of learning that rises organically out of local contexts. During my Wanderjahr, I will explore the work of educators in Peru, Guatemala, Ghana, Uganda and India who aim to develop and sustain a more culturally relevant education for communities that have been left out of the formal education system.

Rhidaya Trivedi, Middlebury College
Cooking Two Birds With One Stove: Slowing Climate Change and Building Empowerment Across the Developing World With Stove Technology
Guatemala, Bolivia, Malawi, Mozambique, India
In the last year, science has discovered the overwhelming contribution of cooking fires in the developing world to short-term climate change. Recognizing the reversal this represents in traditional climate discourse (which placed sole agency in regulatory power of the world's largest carbon emitters), and the need to buy time for more substantial emissions reductions in the developed world, this project will explore the potential for efficient stove distribution to be raised on the agenda of climate and development practitioners and provide a unique opportunity for historically disempowered communities to take back their climate, and their self-determination.

Alexis Valauri-Orton, Davidson College
Thinking Outside the Lab: Discovering the Human Toll of Ocean Acidification
Norway, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Peru, Mauritius
Ocean acidification, a consequence of CO2 pollution, threatens reefs and fisheries worldwide. On my Watson, I will live with communities in five countries that are particularly vulnerable to acidification. I will learn how their livelihoods and cultures are dependent upon marine resources, discovering the human stake in this environmental crisis. Each narrative of acidification will be shaped by different dependencies, cultures, and crises, and together they will provide me with a global, human narrative that demands action.

Rebecca Wade, Rice University
Going the Distance: An Exploration of Running Cultures in Five Countries
United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Japan, New Zealand, Finland
Track and field is the most global of all sports. It transcends national, demographic and socioeconomic boundaries and attracts representatives from more countries to its major competitions than any other sport. I intend to spend a year exploring the long-distance running cultures in five countries with unique and storied running histories: England, Ethiopia, Japan, New Zealand and Finland. My objective is to construct an encompassing and comparative view of these diverse environments as I investigate the role of running on individual, societal and global scales.

Teona Williams, Bowdoin College
A Search for Playtime: Understanding the Meaning of Nature Among Marginalized Groups
India, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Dominican Republic
My project seeks to travel to different regions in order to understand how different communities connect to nature. I will execute this project by working with different organizations to collect oral histories from community members tracing their relationship with nature. I will supplement these narratives by visiting various national parks in order to observe who has access to different natural spaces.

*Travel to this country is permitted only if the U. S. State Department lifts its travel warning.

Copyright 2014 The Thomas J. Watson Foundation