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TWO BARD SENIORS RECEIVE PRESTIGIOUS AND HIGHLY SELECTIVE WATSON TRAVEL GRANTS Only 50 students nationwide are awarded grants for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States

Emily M. Darrow
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Two Bard College seniors—Christophe Chung and Jonathan Helfgott—have been awarded the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Foundation 2006–07 Fellowship, which provides for a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. “The awards are long-term investments in people likely to lead or innovate,” says Beverly Larson, executive director of the Watson Fellowship Program and a former Watson Fellow. “We look for people with passion, a feasible plan, leadership potential, and creativity. The recipients receive unusual freedom in global experiential learning.” Each Watson Fellow receives a grant of $25,000 for the year of travel and exploration. Christophe Chung’s proposal, “Tilling the Slope: An Exploration of Rural Terrace Farming in Peru, Vietnam, Laos, China, and India,” seeks to investigate terrace farming, focusing specifically on the engineering and construction of irrigation systems and terrace walls and on the agricultural component of planting, maintaining, and harvesting crops. Chung says, “I will explore issues pertaining to environmental, economic, and social sustainability, as well as the tension between rural and urban environments.” Jonathan Helfgott wants to “use baseball as a medium for exploring the complex dynamics that accompany cultural exchange.” His proposal is “Baseball’s Globalization: Economics, Culture, and Sport in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia, and Japan.” He plans to immerse himself in various international baseball communities across Latin America and the Pacific Rim, where he will observe and engage baseball players, fans, coaches, and scouts wherever he can find them. Helfgott notes, “Baseball’s expansion mirrors the process of economic globalization in many ways. The game of baseball is an accessible and meaningful way to examine the deeper cultural implications of this process.” Over the past several years, five Bard seniors have received Watson Fellowships: Yishay Garbasz and Nguyen Nguyen (2004–05); Emily McNair and Vincent Valdmanis (2003–04); and Miya Buxton (2002–03). Nearly 1,000 students from up to 50 selective private liberal arts colleges and universities apply for these awards each year. This year, 176 students competed on the national level, after their institutions nominated them in the autumn. The year of travel provides fellows an opportunity to test their aspirations and abilities and develop a more informed sense of international concern. More than 2,300 Watson Fellows have taken this challenging journey during the history of the program. They have gone on to become college presidents and professors, CEOs of major corporations, politicians, artists, lawyers, diplomats, doctors, journalists, and researchers. The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program was begun in 1968 by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents’ long-standing interest in education and world affairs. The Watson Foundation regards its investment in people as an effective contribution to the global community. Since its inception almost 150 years ago, Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson in New York State’s Dutchess County, has maintained a fervent commitment to liberal arts and sciences education. It has done so by establishing a challenging academic program and fostering the interchange of ideas between a faculty of the highest caliber and an exemplary student body. This interaction is at the heart of classical education and serves as the cornerstone of a democratic civilization. Founded in 1860, Bard is a four-year residential college, offering the bachelor of arts degree with concentrations in more than 40 academic programs in four divisions: Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies. Bard has developed a new vision of the liberal arts college as a central body surrounded by significant institutes and programs that strengthen its curriculum. This model is distinctly different from the structure of a large university. While it is flexible enough to include programs for research, graduate study, community outreach, and other cultural and educational activities, the undergraduate program remains its focus. Each satellite program is designed to enhance the undergraduate course of study by offering students opportunities for interaction with leading artists and scholars. For further information about the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program, visit or e-mail For further information about Bard College, visit or e-mail # # # (3/15/06)

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This event was last updated on 10-02-2006