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Watson Alumni on


Haley Andres, University of Puget Sound
Art, Trauma, and Creative Healing: Understanding Art Therapy in a Diversifying World
Australia, Bolivia, Tanzania, Japan
While survivors of trauma have greatly benefited from both psycho-clinical counseling and communal creative programming, there is currently a substantial segregation between these art-based healing practices. For my Watson year, I will question this divide, immersing myself in both Western and non-Western cultures, collaborating in multiple types of creative healing practices. I hope to gain a better understanding of trauma, and cultural perspectives on creative healing within an increasingly diversifying society.

Eloise Andry, Williams College
Solid as a Rock? Life on a Volcano
Iceland, Chile, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Indonesia
Volcanoes are the most dramatic and visible of the geologic processes which shape the world around us. By traveling to five countries with different styles of active volcanism, my project will explore how humans living nearby view and interact with volcanoes. How do they structure their lives around a volcano that both supports their livelihood and threatens their very existence? Currently, my knowledge of volcanoes is rooted in science, but during my Watson year, I hope to broaden my understanding through the stories and perspectives of those who call the volcano home.

Rodrigo Bijou, Bowdoin College
Trust in Technology: Exploring Innovation and Intent in Global Hacking Communities
Argentina, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia
Billions of global citizens and systems will come online in the coming decades, as technology pervades every facet of our lives. This exponential rate of technology adoption also means that the world will become inherently less safe due to underlying technical risks. Disrupting the criminal stereotype, I aim to explore how hackers are working to minimize these risks by creating new tools to increase online safety and constructing permanent 'hackerspaces' to support the next generation of digital innovators. I hope to come home having contributed to projects and groups working to restore trust in technology.

Haley Brown, Pitzer College ( 2013 - 2014 Deferral)
In the Moment: Expanding the Modes of Performing and Being Through Improvisation
Canada, India, Italy, Brazil
Improvisation is as ancient as storytelling itself, and its dimensions and possibilities for transformation are infinite. Though often credited to Viola Spolin in the United States, improv knows no boundaries, and in fact, it explodes them. During my Watson year, I will explore improvised theatre in many of its diverse contexts - from ancient to contemporary, grass-roots to institutionalized, highly spontaneous to heavily codified, practiced for its own sake or as a result of natural variation. Grounding my study in four major theatre styles that incorporate improvisation, my journey will take me to Canada for TheatreSports, India for Kathakali, Italy for Commedia Dell'arte, and Brazil for Theatre of the Oppressed, extending into the peripheries, offshoots, and overlaps of improvised theatre and its many vibrant communities.

Anthony Capparelli, Lawrence University
A Light in the Brugh: Finding Warmth and Magic in the Folk Music of Northern Europe
Ireland, United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, Norway
The Brugh is the Scots Gaelic name for the faery dwelling seen from within -- a place of music, joy, and light. For my Watson year, I will travel to close-knit communities in Ireland, the Scottish Isles, Lapland, and Scandinavia to explore the musical traditions of the Celtic, Nordic, Sami, and Karelian cultures and how they create a sense of joy while bringing people together in the harsh and dark winters of Northern Europe. I will enter the Brugh, immersing myself in every aspect of Celtic and Scandinavian music making, from the teaching, the playing, and the ancestry of their songs and stories, to the crafting of native instruments.

Shneeka Center, Davidson College
No, We Will Not Go Back Inside: Female Social Mobility Through Sport
Sweden, India, Senegal, Peru
My project strives to examine how participation in athletics is enabling females to positively or negatively influence their position in society. My Watson year will take me to four locations -- Sweden, India, Senegal and Peru. In each case, sports are providing girls with unique opportunities to change their social standing. I aim to answer case-specific questions and uncover the methods by which sports are able to have an influence on girls' lives worldwide.

Kelsey Crutchfield-Peters, University of Puget Sound
It Takes a Village: Placing Biodiversity Conservation in the Context of Native and Indigenous Communities
Chile, Madagascar, Borneo, New Zealand
Environmental conservation has the power to unite people through a shared cause, but it also has the potential to dismantle communities. On my Watson year, I will study the relationships between indigenous cultures and biodiversity conservation along the top-down -- bottom-up continuum in Chile, Madagascar, Borneo and New Zealand. Shadowing scientists and environmental stewards from indigenous and international communities, I will explore diverse ecosystems and the potential for multicultural community-building through biodiversity conservation.

Sean Day, Union College
What Moves You: Exploring The Value of Human Motion Through Cultural Perceptions of Disabilities
Sierra Leone, Switzerland, India, Japan
On my Watson year I will explore cultural perceptions of disabilities in four countries: Sierra Leone, Switzerland, India and Japan. I want to better understand the ways in which these cultural perceptions influence individuals. This will enable me to identify ways in which a culture molds the identity of those who have limited mobility. I will interact with and move along side both disabled and able-bodied individuals.

Anouk de Fontaine, College of the Atlantic
Dance as Medicine: Looking at Dance as a Tool for Community Healing.
Brazil, South Africa, The Kingdom of Swaziland, India, Japan
Dance can summon our healing capacities; it is a powerful tool for personal and communal healing. I will explore the ways in which groups that have experienced incredible historical trauma -- the slave trade, apartheid, exile and diaspora, and atomic bombings -- have used dance to process and heal themselves. By observing, dancing, and talking to members of dance communities I will look at trauma as a personal and shared experience. I will explore the interplay of history and culture in facing trauma, and understand the specific movements, rhythms and vocabularies that create kinesthetic healing. My hope is that through this exploration I can begin to shape a dance form that can be a tool for reovery.

Carolyn Decker, Wheaton College
When Nature Inspires: A Poet Goes Wild
Dominica, Botswana, Australia, China
During my Watson year, I will seek the connections between people, their poetry, and the natural world as these translate across ecosystems and cultures. As an environmental scientist and poet, I will engage with conservationists and writers in order to explore the ways that nature prompts writing and writing about nature prompts environmental advocacy. I aim to further understand the role of nature as a source of inspiration and action for writers, asking: what does the wild mean to us? What happens when nature inspires us?

Beatrice Denham, Wellesley College
Building with Brick: Clay, Community and Craft
Peru, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Uzbekistan, India
People build with brick all over the world: out of one material come countless traditions of construction, decoration and dwelling. I will study brick making and building in communities where these processes are largely done by hand. Learning by hand as an apprentice, I seek a deep and tactile knowledge of material, one that extends to understanding of origins, labor practices, and sustainability. By participating in and observing communities of practice, I ask what it means to work with your hands in a global society.

Basil Farraj, Earlham College
Palestinian Borderline Identity: A Quest for an Alternative Palestinian Identity
Chile, Norway, France, United Arab Emirates
During my Watson year, I will analyze the notion of a uniform Palestinian identity that I have always been exposed to and functioned within. To do so, I will visit Palestinian communities in Chile, Norway, France and the United Arab Emirates and interact with a variety of individuals and organizations. I will immerse myself in questions of identity, dominant narratives and uniformity in order to understand the stories of communities that have long been marginalized. I want to allow for the stories of others to inform my understanding of and search for the Palestinian identity and my own. In getting to know Palestinian communities, I hope to position myself within, and be able to alter, movements seeking justice for the Palestinian people.

Colleen Fugate, Rice University
The Other Side of the Border: Women's Resilience in Migrant Towns
Ghana, Morocco, Nepal, Philippines*, Guatemala
The social, political, and economic transformations caused by human migration indelibly affect the communities from where migrants originate. My Watson year is rooted in these towns and cities and looks at the ways women navigate these changing contexts. How do women harness their own agency to get by in the face of transforming communities and ways of life? I will spend my year immersed in five national contexts, collecting and documenting women's stories of strength and resilience through both writing and photography.

Robert Goeller, Sewanee: University of the South
Bullying, Bigotry, and the Beautiful Game: Refereeing Soccer around the Globe
Brazil, South Africa, Qatar, Switzerland, United Kingdom
I love being a referee. A year studying soccer refereeing will take me to three World Cup venues, FIFA's headquarters, and the birthplace of the modern game. In the process I will study bigotry, high stress situations, and the evolution of soccer to determine how refereeing differs by country. I will stay in soccer training academies, go to referee clinics, watch soccer games, and talk with fans, players, and officials. My journey seeks to discover the crucial and changing role that referees play in maintaining the laws of the game.

Gus Greenstein, Amherst College
Hydropower-Induced Displacement and Livelihood Effects: Where Specific Places Warrant Specific Restoration Strategies
India, Chile, Paraguay, Thailand
Development-driven governments worldwide are pursuing hydroelectricity projects at an unprecedented rate, widely causing involuntary displacement of people from their communities. On my Watson year, I will immerse myself in dam-affected regions in India, Chile, Paraguay, and Thailand. I hope to understand how the dams' impacts, as well as local sociocultural, economic, and political factors, give rise to individualized compensation needs for these communities.

Ashley Hahn, Bryn Mawr College
Overcoming Trauma: Exploring Different Approaches to Helping Children in Need
United Kingdom, Australia, Guatemala, Brazil, Kenya*, Ghana
Children around the world are suffering from many different traumas including child abuse, sexual exploitation, poverty, living on the streets, and participating in armed conflict. Different parts of society from local and government efforts to international charities are involved in helping these children in need. During my Watson, I will travel to the U.K., Australia, Brazil, Guatemala, Kenya, and Ghana to explore how different cultures, societies, and types of organizations help children suffering from trauma.

Alison Harrington, Hendrix College
Partnering with Fungi to Improve the Human Landscape through Transformative Decomposition
Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa, Namibia, Ecuador, Costa Rica
In the midst of a global waste crisis, I propose to explore the potential of fungi to solve global problems. Working with the people who study and use fungus, I hope to understand the basis for cultural dispositions towards fungi and the decomposition they represent. I aim to study the paradoxical application of transformative decay towards constructive ends while promoting mutualism between humans and fungi.

Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati, California Institute of Technology
Past, Present, and Future: What to expect when the Climate Changes
Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Nepal, Norway
Hundreds of millions of people are directly impacted by climate change alterations to the Earth surface. Understanding how our Earth has adapted to increasing temperatures is essential to finding solutions on how humans should adapt. During the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), about 50 million years ago, the temperature rose about 5 Celsius over a 10,000 year period, which is analogous to climate change today. By measuring physical, chemical, and biological clues left in the PETM rock record from New Zealand to Norway, I will compare current and past climate change impacts and learn what climate change means for myself and humanity.

Shiqing He, Union College
The Fading Color: Natural Dye Production around the Globe
Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Italy, Spain
Natural dyes create non-toxic and eco-friendly colors that are sadly being replaced by synthetic coloring. Extracting natural dye from plants and animals is a traditional art that contains the combined wisdom of many. Natural dye materials vary by region, each one developing its own dye-extraction techniques and related arts. I will live with dye-producing communities to learn about natural dye from artists who are using these eco-friendly pigments and use my brushes and camera to explore this amazing art form.

Theodore Hoffman Jr., Grinnell College
Marginalized Imaginations: Embracing Global Adaptive Theaters
South Africa, New Zealand, India, Ghana
During my Watson year, I will immerse myself in adaptive theaters: institutions that use drama as a vehicle for celebrating and enabling people of different abilities. From theater/dance companies to community programs, I hope to observe how sharing the spotlight encourages confidence in non-neurotypical and "physically disabled" individuals in New Zealand, South Africa, India, and Ghana. My experiences will give me a better understanding of how these institutions reflect cultural values of "ideal" human bodies and disability rights, and how their work with differently-abled individuals enriches artistic expression through a recognition of marginalized imaginations.

Dylan Hunziker, Berea College
Tip of the Tongue: Language Balancing Among the Chinese Diaspora
Taiwan, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Italy
What does it mean to be part of the Chinese speaking community? In what ways do these themes intertwine? In what ways does language affect the Chinese diaspora and in what ways does the Chinese diaspora affect language? To answer these questions, I will travel to Taiwan, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, and Italy, where I will reside among the Chinese diaspora to study the balancing of languages. By establishing a personal connection to both people and place, I will come to a greater understanding of the identities of both the Chinese diaspora and myself.

Margarita Jesme, Earlham College
Healing Sans Hegemony: Exploring the Incorporation of Traditional Medicine into Post-Conflict Healthcare Reconstruction
Rwanda, India, Nepal, East Timor, Bolivia
The post-conflict era can bring revolutionary reconstruction of community and state healthcare structures, expanding the sphere of access to healthcare. However, the prevalence of the international community in such reconstructions too often privileges occidental medicine, silencing local voices and notions of healing, as well as marginalizing traditional medicine. On my Watson year, I will explore how local voices can be privileged in post-conflict healthcare reconstruction, while simultaneously developing my own personal understanding of health and healing. Combining my passions for social justice and medicine, this journey will shape who I become as an activist, humanitarian and healer.

Brian Kennedy, Bates College
An Algae Alternative
Japan, Australia, Ireland,Canada
Coastal communities globally are struggling with the decline of fisheries and other conventional marine resources. Through the production of food and biofuel, algae is a compelling alternative for marine economies. By looking at algae hotbeds in Japan, Australia, Ireland, and Canada my project seeks to assess the capability of algae to sustain coastal communities' working connection with the ocean. Through interview, photography, written media, and participation with members of algae networks I will study harvesting, culture, and processing techniques while evaluating ecosystem impacts and management regimes.

Katherine Koontz, Sewanee: University of the South
Drawing Out and Giving Back: The Othermother, and Women Supporting Women
Belize, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines*
I want to explore organizations that provide care and advocacy for women who have been silenced by violence, stigma or discrimination. Specifically, I'm interested in groups who balance the tension between respecting women's personal boundaries and shattering societal barriers. By striking this balance, these organizations play the role of what Patricia Collins calls an "othermother" to the women they serve. In Belize, Ireland, Kyrgystan, and the Phillipines, I will live among women whose passion, like mine, is protecting other women and drawing out their powerful stories.

Tianna Lall, Wheaton College
Staging Discomfort: A Playwright's Journey
Germany, Thailand, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom, India
Actress Glenn Close once stated "All great art comes from a sense of outrage". Theatre has the substantial power to invoke very specific emotions from those who take the risky dive to watch, read, or participate in this popular art form. But how far can theatre go? Over the course of my Watson year, I will explore how, what I call, "Theatre of Discomfort" has manifests in countries around the world by looking through the lenses of the director, the actor, and more importantly, the playwright. How is controversial theatre being handled? What makes a play "great"? And where is the line between greatness and outrage, if such a line exists?

Nathaniel Livingston, Hamilton College
Performing Culture: Contemporary Expressions of Oral and Musical Traditions
Finland, United Kingdom, India, Senegal
I aim to engage in a musical dialogue with traditions that have thrived in Finland, Scotland, India, and Senegal for centuries. In the process, I will come to realize how these traditions live through the contemporary musical styles that they influence. I want to explore what makes oral and musical traditions powerful presences in the community they speak for. As an experienced musician, I want to discover what it is like to make music in a totally new and different performance context.

Alexander Marecki, Bowdoin College
The Positive Power of the Beautiful Game: Developing Youth and Promoting Peace in the Face of Poverty and Violence
Columbia*, South Africa, Ghana, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Brazil
How can the world help quell the pain of youth in disadvantaged areas and help them find hope and opportunity to better their lives? How can we promote peace and equality on the world stage in the midst of violence and turmoil? I plan to investigate these issues by exploring the transformative power of sport, soccer in particular, throughout the world. Soccer culture is distinct and widely influential across multiple continents, making it an optimal vehicle for social change. In South Africa, Ghana, Scotland, Ukraine and Brazil I will explore the relationship between soccer and character. I plan to explore questions such as: How does soccer develop confidence, respect, leadership, and life goals? How does soccer instill agency into players lives given their unique circumstances? And what are the different ways various initiatives use soccer to tackle problems and produce results distinctive to their players.

Ali Mctar, Williams College
Finding Peace Among Friends: Quaker Solutions to Global Problems
Guatemala, Rwanda, Indonesia, Ireland, Switzerland
After the deadliest century of human history, people across the world are hoping for the seeds of peace to be planted and to thrive. I want to spend twelve months experiencing the ways that Quakers are a part of this process, exploring how they engage with the violence stricken communities of Guatemala, Rwanda, Indonesia, and Ireland, and how those communities in turn understand, practice, and transform Quakerism. I am interested in learning how the founding insight of Quakerism -- that everyone has a divine spark in them -- translates into concrete social and political change. Given the history of social justice in Quakerism in the US, what is fomenting internationally?

Halah Mohammed, Carleton College
Un-blocking Freedom of Expression: Tracing Stories Through Spoken Word
United Kingdom, South Africa, United Arab Emirates
On my Watson year, I will explore Spoken Word in England, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates. In these countries, I will join Spoken Word groups and organizations to hear and learn about the narratives their rap and poetry artists share in their works and the techniques they use, as I immerse myself in their culture. My hope is these experiences will expose me to narratives I haven't heard and provide ways to share my freedom of expression with others.

Benjamin Munyao, Colorado College
A Walk to Manhood: A Look at the Interplay Among the Society, the Youth and the Elders
Ethiopia, New Zealand, Australia, Ghana
In most traditional communities, male rites of passage played a vital role of transitioning boys into manhood. I will immerse myself into communities that still practice these rites of passage in search of a diverse youth leadership model as well as examine the interplay among the youth, the elders and the society as a whole. From this experience, I hope to gain insight on the complex questions surrounding the contemporary youth crisis and whether the disappearance of these rituals could explain some of the crisis. Is there value that can only be derived from actually going through these rites of passage and not just reading and hearing about them?

Heather Olson, Rice University
Gardens By the People, For the People: An Exploration of Inner-City Community Gardens
Denmark, India, Nepal, Japan, Australia, Brazil
In recent decades, food contamination scares, climate change, and uncertain energy politics have intensified the interest in gardening worldwide. As cities grow, so too does the need to create spaces that foster community and beautify the neighborhood. In the cities that I visit as a Watson fellow I will investigate all aspects of the establishment, maintenance and preservation of community gardens. By speaking with gardeners, community leaders, organizations and city officials; I am interested in the ways people enact visions for the future, solve problems and resolve conflict around community space. Exploring cities on foot, I will see what frustrates and inspires gardeners and discover the individual innovations that imbue the city with character and life.

McKenna Raney, Hendrix College
Uncovering Emotional Connections in Human-Equine Partnerships
Argentina, France, Iceland, Ireland, South Africa, Kyrgyzstan, Australia
I will explore the relationships of humans and horses through farming, ranching, therapy, and sports worldwide. I will work to discover how relationship, discipline, and culture affect a working partnership between horse and human. My specific objectives are to understand different lived experiences, to identify broader cultural implications, and discover if others' identities are contingent on their relationship with horses. To achieve these goals, I will shadow equine workers, work alongside them, stay in their homes, and conduct informal snowball interviews with members of cross-cultural groups who work with horses daily.

Alyson Raynor, Hamilton College
The Path of Rehabilitation: Exploring the Lives of Traumatic Brain Injury Survivors
Sweden, France, New Zealand, India
Traumatic brain injuries, indiscriminate and unprovoked, are a 21st century epidemic. I will spend time with survivors, rehabilitation specialists, and support organizations to explore the recovery processes that bridge hospital to community reintegration. I will visit countries that offer rehabilitation services ranging from emerging to comprehensive care. Along this path I hope to gain an understanding of what helps and hinders the process of rehabilitation within varied cultural contexts.

Simone Schriger, Bates College
Parting with One's Parts: Donation and Commodification of the Body
India, South Africa, Costa Rica
During my Watson year, I seek to understand the distinction between gifts and commodities in the context of body parts and fluids. What motivates people to donate or sell a part of themselves? Are those who are paid for their parts not acting altruistically? Can something be a gift and a commodity all at once? Focusing on breast milk, hair, blood, and kidneys, I will examine how the varying uses of these parts (life-saving vs. aesthetic) and the invasiveness required to extract them affect decisions to give and sell. I will engage in conversations with givers and sellers across cultures, religions, and social classes, collecting their stories and sharing them through vignettes.

Meghna Sridhar, Amherst College
Retracing Rama's Journey: Mapping the Hindu epic "Ramayana" as a Global Tradition of Mythmaking and Storytelling
Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Italy, South Africa
The Sanskrit epic "Ramayana" has a curiously global appeal: originally a Hindu tale, it has spread over time to become the national epic of Cambodia and Laos, an object of cultural heritage to Indonesia, an artifact of literary fascination to Italian "Indology" scholars, and a community building tool to South African laborers. What makes this particular story so adaptable and enduring? How do different communities tell the same story differently? How do the heroes, villains and values change with every retelling? What sets these Ramayanas apart and what core unifies them? I want to gain a sense of what both the Ramayana is (through performance, translation and art) and what it means to the people of each culture and community.

Christian Stevens, Harvey Mudd College
The Natural Attorneys of the Poor: Bridges of Trust between Marginalized Communities and Medicine
Malawi, China, The Republic of the Congo, Russia
In spite of numerous scientific advances in treating diseases like HIV and tuberculosis, they continue to spread and devastate the poorest and most marginalized communities in the world. This discrepancy is often more related to social and cultural obstacles than technical obstacles. In order to investigate the social obstacles to disease management, I will seek to understand the complexities that define relationships between those in need of medical care, and those who provide it. Through the Watson I will gain perspective on the often overlooked relationships that define health outcomes in the most marginalized communities.

Cheyenne Stewart, Earlham College
Parto Humanizado: Exploring the Birth Justice Movement in the Americas
Chile, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Trinidad-Tobago, Bahamas
During my Watson year I will immerse myself in the Parto Humanizado movement ("humanized birth") for birth justice within the Americas. What does an empowering birthing experience look like and how is it created? How do visions of humanized birth differ? I will look at how different individuals, organizations, and networks work towards creating parto humanizado on a local, national and international level. All of the countries are at different places in their realization of this global birth moment, and each locale has a unique vision of birth justice. The movement is particularly unified within the Americas, where many cultures still have ties to traditional birthing practices. I will explore these unique visions and struggles while looking at the relationship between the traditional and the modern.

Sylvia Thomas, Macalester College
Absorbing the Waves of Community Radio
Bolivia, Bangladesh, Tanzania
I seek to live, work and study community radio in three distinct and unique developing countries: Bolivia, Bangladesh, and Tanzania. In developing countries, access to technology remains limited and populations depend on radio for affordable and accessible communication. Community radio stations in Bolivia, Bangladesh, and Tanzania are tied together with the same homespun thread: local people depend on the station to influence their community. Studios in Bolivia, Bangladesh, and Tanzania actively effect local change, and I am eager to learn new tactics, ideas, and creative technology from each country. On my Watson year, I hope to gain insight into the local community and how ideas are sustained, changed, or perceived on the community radio station.

Mayrah Udvardi, Wellesley College
On Fragile Architecture: Exploring Causes of Housing Insecurity in Indigenous Communities
Malaysia, Peru, Ethiopia, Russia
On my Watson year I will explore housing insecurity in indigenous communities where people struggle to sustain their lands, homes, and livelihoods. Through visual journaling, a reflective process that incorporates mapping, gestural sketching, and architectural drawing, I plan to spend three months each with the Penan people in Malaysia, the Matses of the Peruvian Amazon, the Omo Valley Tribes in Ethiopia, and the Khanty people in the Siberian taiga. Living with these people and experiencing the forces that threaten their communities, I hope to visually process their stories in a way that is reflective and constructive.

Zhengyang Wang, Swarthmore College
Children of Butterflies: Ranching Beauty Around the Globe
Costa Rica, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Tanzania
I will explore butterfly ranching communities in Costa Rica, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and Tanzania. At a technical level, I will uncover the mysterious techniques used in rearing some of the most awe-inspiring butterflies around the world; at a social level, I will document how butterfly ranching is changing the livelihood of the communities involved; at a metaphysical level, I will plunge into the ranchers' cultural perception of human-butterfly interaction.

Emily Weitzman, Wesleyan University
The Points are Not the Point: Slam Poetry, Community, and Culture
South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, Ireland
Since its creation by a Chicago construction worker in 1984, slam poetry has become a vibrant mode of artistic expression. To popularize poetry, slam was created as a judged competition, but an adage in the world of slam is "the points are not the point, the point is the poetry." I will explore communities of slam poets in South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, and Ireland to discover the "point" of slam across diverse cultures. By interviewing poets, observing slams, and helping slam organizations in their outreach activities, I will learn how slam poetry can bring people together within a culture and across the globe.

Audrey Wozniak, Wellesley College
Hearing the World through New Ears: Exploring the Musical Cultures of Gamelan, Muqam, and Cimbalom Bands
Indonesia, China, Azerbaijan, Hungary, Czech Republic
I plan to experience three musical traditions (gamelan, muqam, and cimbalom band) in five different countries. I will examine the roles of these traditions in local culture, as well as their intersection with outside musical influences. I will especially seek to connect and play with musicians who perform works from both the local and Western art music traditions, and learn how the two music styles can be seamlessly intertwined to create a cohesive musical whole that crosses geopolitical boundaries.

Codey Young, Ursinus College
Releasing the Caged Bird: Chronicling Artistic Expressions of Black Masculinity
Dominican Republic, Brazil, Germany, France
I will travel through African Diasporic countries seeking to understand Black men's use of artistic expressions to create a sense of identity rooted in their link to African ancestry, while adapting to the cultural and historic circumstances that define their geographic location. By using my own poetry to chronicle my encounters and sharing it with fellow artists, I hope to echo the voices of their unique experiences and gain deeper insight into the bonds that connect Black male artists around the world.

Ruiyi Zhu, Pomona College
Chasing the Shadows: Memories of Communism in Post-Communist Countries
Hungary, Mongolia, Ethiopia
Communism is usually remembered as a failed idealistic experiment in the 20th century, centered on the rise and fall of the Soviet Empire. However, have the post-Communist transitions been successful and how can we measure the success? By interacting with young patrons at Communist-ruins-converted-bars in Hungary, living with nomadic families in Mongolia, and working at organic farms in Ethiopia, my project will explore how memories of Communism in post-Communist countries are woven into the shifting social fabric.

View the 2014-2015 Fellowship Alternates

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

Copyright 2014 The Thomas J. Watson Foundation