The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Reed College President’s Summer Fellowship

The President’s Summer Fellowship offers students a chance to think big and tackle a summer project that combines intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good. The program was established in 2012 with a gift from trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and Susan Steinhauser and inaugurated by President John R. Kroger.

President's Summer Fellowship Winners

Reed is proud to announce the winners of the President’s Summer Fellowship for 2019.

Anqi Chen ’19, psychology
Adrift: a Documentary on Chinese Diaspora in France

The Chinese Diaspora is a hugely understudied and under-documented subject in immigration studies. As a person that identifies and lives with my Chineseness for its specific ethnic and transnational context, I feel impelled to open up its investigation. France has the largest Chinese community in Europe and has been reportedly struggling with issues of migration, diversity and minority rights. The political, cultural, and experiential voice of the community has remained in the shadow amidst mainstream discourse over these pressing issues. Considering the community members came from very diverse historical and cultural backgrounds, what does it mean to be Chinese in the French context? I will investigate the conditions of the Chinese cultures in relation to mainstream society and how these dynamics change across generations. My project will address the psychological effects of colonialism, racism, xenophobia, estrangement, and other pertinent issues. Through the span of a documentary filled with everyday encounters and intimate dialogues with the people in the community, I seek to open up an experiential investigation that ranges far through an unnoticed world and deeply into the lives of people who live there, albeit on the peripheries of dominant culture. This is a film of experience and of reflection and founded on a theoretical and experiential framework in sinology. My filmmaking skills will be strengthened by engaging with the latest documentary trends. I endeavor to expand my understanding of my identity and ethnicity in different geopolitical circumstances.

Pixie Freeman ’21, environmental studies–political science
Place Based Education as Transformation: a Pedagogical Exploration of Teaching and Learning

The transformative period between elementary and middle school is a time in which science lessons can make or break students engagement with STEM fields for the rest of their lives. Coming from a low-income community, my lack of positive experiences with science affects my relationship with science to this day. According to the Oregon STEM Investment Council, inquiry based science experiences strengthen science outcomes for all students. My project will focus on developing an inquiry and engineering summer camp curriculum to be used in a two-week camp for fifteen 4th and 5th grade students in August. I will use my knowledge of planning, designing, and counseling to explore radical inquiry based teaching pedagogies and student led scientific exploration. My curricular development will include one week of engineering projects, scientific lessons, and community building exercises. In the second week, students will explore a specific area of their interest, culminating in an independent project and presentation for their peers and families. Science education should be transformative. Through this project I will be encouraging students to engage with science as they live it and critically examining my own interactions and experiences with science.

Saba Goodarzi ’20, physics
Studying Hindustani Classical Music and Culture with Master Ayaan Ali Khan

I will spend ten weeks in New Delhi, India studying the sarod with master musician Ayaan Ali Khan. Ayaan is a Hindustani classical musician and is part of a seven-generational lineage of sarod musicians in India who are recognized for having invented the instrument nearly four hundred years ago. While studying with Ayaan, I will focus on sarod technique while also learning the established canon of ragas (melodic modes) and talas (rhythmic cycles) in Hindustani classical music. In addition to learning technique and theory, I look to participate in one of the key components of ethnomusicological study: the practice of fieldwork and participant observation. While taking lessons with Ayaan, I plan on taking daily notes and collecting a diary of entries on music which encapsulates my experience learning the sarod.

Hannah Jensvold ’20, art/dance
Wolves, Witches, Books, and Morality: Making Little Red Riding Hood Visible

The story of Little Red Riding Hood seems to get a certain fear of the unknown common in humanity because it has been retold for centuries. Its original manifestations as a medieval and renaissance French oral story, first written down by Charles Perrault in the 1690s, were much darker than the Grimm Brothers’ version more well-known today, often bringing in themes of cannibalism, witchcraft and sex, working as cautionary tales warning against the horrors that would surely result from young girls straying from the paths intended for them. My project will take me traveling through these regions of France to see the physical places and cultural contexts, through historical sites and museums, that birthed this story, while drawing what I see and immersing myself in texts analyzing the role of the many versions of the story in enforcing gender expectations and policing girls’ behavior in society. This will culminate in me hand-binding five copies of a book of my design featuring Perrault’s original text and my illustrations informed by exploring these influences, moralizing implications, and specifically gendered warnings in a story that’s been a part of the development of my perception of my own gendered relationship to the world since childhood.

Elizabeth Kim ’22, English
Speaking Ourselves

Between 1998 and March 2018, 31,530 North Korean refugees entered South Korea. Being motivated by extreme hunger, persecution, forced labor and torture, and other violations against human rights, North Korean refugees settled in the South only to be faced with difficult psychological and cultural adjustment. Part of this adjustment includes the prevalence of English in South Korean society. Because many universities require English exams for admittance, many North Koreans have difficulties in entering university. This perpetuates the discrimination SKs have against NKs and further creates hardships for NKs in finding a job. My project "Speaking Ourselves" collaborates with the organization Teach North Korean Refugees. We aim to help NKR learn and speak English and provide the means for NKs to share their stories with South Korea and the rest of the world. Through various English tutorials/sessions, speech coaching, and forums, we want to create confidence among NKs in voicing their identity as well as provide opportunities for SK and NK to interact. We aim to publish a book of their speeches and send one refugee to study abroad.

Mayaki Kimba ’20, political science
Ideals in Transit: Mobility in Multicultural Europe

Mass transit articulates, subverts and challenges political ideals. Invoking progress and involving vast amounts of public spending, it conveys the political ideals that justify the role, responsibilities, presence and authority of the state as it transforms, shapes, and arranges the urban space and the mobility of its occupants. Yet the efficacy of mass transit in reifying such ideals becomes contested when the original infrastructure remains in place while the society around it changes. I seek to explore this contestation by visiting diverse neighborhoods in Berlin, Paris and London that exemplify the social change of increasing ethnic and cultural pluralism in Europe. With Dutch, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Togolese roots, I am personally and particularly interested in this social change. I furthermore seek to experience ideals and their subversion by travelling on all lines of the Berlin, Paris and London metro systems. While in transit, I will keep a field journal to document my experiences, which I will supplement by reading scholarly and literary work on the Underground, Métro and U- and S-Bahn. This project will hence enable me to not just understand, but experience how political ideals affect how we live, move, and orient ourselves in an increasingly multicultural space.

Soroa Lear ’21, comparative literature
The Body That Talks: Dances of Intimacy

For my project I want to participate in two summer dance intensives: B12 and the Paris Summer Academy. Both programs will offer me a chance to work with a variety of choreographers who are currently making challenging, inspiring and intimate work. My goal after graduation is to join a modern dance company and use dance as a tool for social healing. In reworking the meaning of physical communication, dance enables the mover to reclaim their body as a vessel of art. I am specifically interested in researching the role of intimacy in non-verbal interactions and how the bodily experiences of touch in a dance space influence the way one interacts with physical communication outside of the sphere of dance. This is perfectly embodied in the world of contact improvisation, but also transcends into the sphere of more quotidian Latin American social dances, such as tango and salsa. The shifts in consent culture and general comfort levels that occur in these spaces fascinate me, and it is a topic on which I am interested in writing a thesis. The world of dance is one where love exists outside of the exclusively romantic, and spaces of improvisation foster this exploration in vulnerability like no other I’ve known.

Yi Liu ’21, philosophy
Life & Death through Film Lens

How to interpret the relationship between life and death and accordingly handle the impermanence in life has long been the implicit question for which I am seeking an answer throughout my intellectual pursuit. To explore this question concretely, this summer I will spend 10 weeks producing a documentary following Qunhua Lu, who performs Buddhist funeral rituals for families in Hefeng, Hubei, China. Having engaged with death in this way for more than 20 years, Lu seems to be in peace with the impermanence that he has witnessed and been through himself. In this documentary, I am going to interact with his perspectives and practices through the film lens—with the aim of arriving at a fresh concrete understanding of life and death in cinematic language. Moreover, since life, death and impermanence are such basic existential conditions for everyone, this project is for not only myself, but also anyone who takes the meaning of existence as their own concern. The documentary aims at an hour in length. Once finished, it will be screened at Reed and submitted to Portland International Film Festival 2020, so that the perspective particular to Chinese Buddhist culture can be shared with Reed and beyond.

Keegan Samaniego ’21, music
Discovering the Intersex Narrative

My project involves taking a train around the country to collect oral history from people who identify as intersex. Intersex people are individuals who don’t fit into traditional biological sex categories. Additionally, intersex people are often survivors of nonconsensual, irreversible genital surgery because their bodies don’t fit into the gender binary. As an intersex person, I want to give a face and voice to those who have been silenced by stigma and shame. I will travel around the country for 45 days, collecting stories and images as I go. The project will end with me attending the largest intersex gathering in the U.S., which will take place in Little Rock, AK in July. The intersex community is small and spread out, so this will give me a chance to meet people and build relationships with other intersex people.

Aislin Steill ’21, environmental studies–political science
Naturalist Narrative

An American literary tradition of place-based identity through individual relationship with natural beauty reflects confoundingly on the contentious contemporary discourse regarding environmental issues in the US. It does, however, lend itself as a potential instrument for reconciliation and novel approaches to science communication and conservation efforts.
This summer I will examine several unique ecosystems along the northern and central Pacific Coast, poignant balances of emblematic mythos and ecological fragility, and compile a field journal to serve as both an introduction and guide to these diverse ecological networks and as a reflection on narrative and identity within these environments. I will document these coastal organisms and habitat by purposeful compilation of observations, natural history, illustrations, photographs, and the motivated creative writing to produce a comprehensive and engaging study of these biological communities. I’ll also visit natural history museums, reserves, and national and state parks to investigate the narrative appeals made by conservation-oriented media.
In the spirit of the artful interdisciplinarity environmental education and advocacy demand, as does navigating this liminality between human and environment, land and sea, factual and figurative, I aim to craft a journal which puts a distinctive and compelling voice to the character of these ruggedly exquisite ecosystems.

Previous winners