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Bard College Students Win Prestigious Fulbright, Watson, and Davis Awards

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—Bard College students have won several highly competitive awards for international travel. Harry Johnson ’17 and Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg ’17 have been awarded prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, which provide for a year of travel and exploration outside the United States. The fellowship offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent, purposeful exploration and travel—in international settings new to them—to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community. Each Watson Fellow receives a grant of $30,000 for 12 months of travel and independent study.

Harry Johnson has won a Watson Fellowship for his proposal “Playing for Change: Innovative Uses of Sport.” His project will take him to India, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Dominican Republic, where he will study how sports in different countries create opportunities and influence culture. “Sport participation and popularity differs around the globe based on site-specific socioeconomic conditions, as well as historical and cultural values. These same variables have fostered many innovative uses of sport to combat social ills afflicting communities worldwide. During my Watson year, I will explore how sports are utilized to counteract issues such as gender inequality, youth unemployment, social exclusion and elevated high school dropout rates,” writes Johnson.

Jordana Rubenstein-Edberg has won a Watson Fellowship for her proposal, “A Place of Return: The Structure and Symbolism of Home.” She will travel to Peru, Ecuador, and Guatemala to explore home building in Latin America. “My Watson year consists of two major components: active participation in house construction and story documentation,” she writes. “I seek to understand the nature of stability and how construction helps define it. In each country, I will visit two locations with widely different environmental, economic, and social factors. How is life experience reflected in the construction process? What is revealed about a family or place by their creation of home?”

Over the past several years, 16 Bard seniors have received Watson fellowships. A Watson year provides fellows with an opportunity to test their aspirations, abilities, and perseverance through a personal project that is cultivated on an international scale. Watson Fellows have gone on to become international leaders in their fields, including CEOs of major corporations, college presidents, MacArthur “genius” grant recipients, diplomats, artists, lawyers, doctors, faculty, journalists, and many renowned researchers and innovators.

Eliza Cornwell ’17 and Samuel Reed ’17 have won a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace prize to support their work this summer in Samos, Greece. Their project will set up an English language school program for young adults in the Samos refugee camp, which was established when masses of people fleeing war and terror began to arrive on boats to the Greek islands after 2011. The majority of refugees are Syrians and Iraqis, but there are also many families from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Gambia, Somalia, Burundi and China. Through their project, Cornwell and Reed aim to bring young refugees together in the classroom, provide greater access to educational resources in the camp, run English classes within the camp on a daily basis, and expand the camp’s library. They will work with refugees who have an interest in teaching and running the daily classes. “Engaging the people living in the camp will be integral to our project’s mission of overcoming the many language and social barriers that separate children in the camp. It is important for us to involve the inhabitants of the camp so that they can continue the project after our departure,” say Cornwell and Reed. Projects for Peace was created in 2007 through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist who believed that today’s youth—tomorrow’s leaders—ought to be challenged to formulate and test their own ideas.

Ivan Ditmars ’17, a classical studies major, has been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Greece for 2017–18. One of eleven ETA Fulbright recipients in Greece, Ditmars also plans to volunteer with refugee aid and support efforts during his placement in Greece. Olivia Kennison ’17, a Russian and Eurasian Studies major, was awarded a Fulbright ETA to Russia, where she will teach English and develop a “Poetry Project.” Kennison’s project will help her students and others in the community explore similarities and differences in Russian and English language and experiment with modes of translations through the study of contemporary American poetry as well as the writing of original poetry. Rosa Schwartzburg ’16, a written arts major, has won a Fulbright ETA to the Netherlands. When she is not in the classroom, she plans to conduct independent research on the Sephardic Jews of the Netherlands and how they assimilated into Dutch culture. Lexington Davis ’14, a double major in Film and Electronic Arts and French Studies, has won a Fulbright grant to Amsterdam where, as a student in the Master’s Program in Visual Arts, Media, and Architecture at the Vrije Universiteit, she will study the influence of film on interwar Dutch realist artists.

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This event was last updated on 04-24-2017