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Reed College senior Dawn Teele awarded Watson Fellowship

Teele to spend a year abroad studying in areas affected by the December 2004 tsunami.

PORTLAND, OR (April 24, 2006) – Dawn Teele, a senior at Reed College, has been awarded the coveted Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to spend a year abroad following graduation. It is a dream come true for the economics major from Pittsburgh, PA, who will use the $25,000 stipend to support a year of study in areas affected by the December 2004 tsunami.

Teele says that when she first read about the Watson fellowship program as a Reed freshman, she knew she would apply. The idea for her project grew out of a course entitled "Fisheries and Forestry" that provoked her to write a paper on the effects of globalization on fisheries in developing nations, specifically dealing with countries in Southeast Asia. "Then, when the tsunami hit," she says, "the first thing that occurred to me was that the fisheries I had studied were, in large part, destroyed. As an economics major I had and still have hope that in spite of the devastation great things are possible. I saw the tsunami as an opportunity to rebuild and perhaps re-vamp a struggling lifestyle with the help of international relief organizations."

Teele expects to explore the way in which interests are balanced between community members and formal organizations in the reconstruction process in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. "Many contemporary micro-economic development studies ignore the culture of the areas that are being examined," Teele says, "but community, culture, and history are of utmost importance when considering the direction that development projects should take. This project will teach me what integrated development means in practice."

Each year, the Watson Foundation provides funding to 50 graduating seniors for a year-long independent study outside of the U.S. The projects, which are entirely created, executed, and evaluated by the fellows, focus on a candidate's commitment to a specific concern. Fellows are selected in a two-step process that requires nomination followed by a national competition. The 38th class of fellows includes, in addition to Teele, a photographer focusing on endemic birds in Australia; a biologist examining perceptions of science and nature in India, Malaysia, and China; and a jazz pianist delving into local music and cultural homogenization in Brazil, Egypt, India, and Japan.