Winter Fellows Set Off For Adventure

Ten Reed students will roam the globe to pursue projects of their own design.

By Ethyl Elwood | December 11, 2018

Reed’s Fellowship for Winter International Travel offers students a chance to pursue a passion, gain experience, or serve the community—by traveling overseas. Operated by the Center for Life Beyond Reed, the fellowship offers students $3000 to tackle an intellectual project of their own design over winter break. The fundamental premise? Go—and grow.

Congratulations to our ten fellows for 2018!


Climbing the Glass Ceiling in Cambodia

Sara Hansen ’20

“You climb like a boy,” he says. At first, I am flattered by this compliment from an incredibly talented Cambodian climber. But later, the gendered nature of this praise opens my eyes to absence of female climbers at Angkor Climbing Wall in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Since the 1980s, Thailand has been a top climbing destination with its limestone rock formations that overhang deep ocean water. In Cambodia, climbing culture has just begun to take hold. After my study abroad program in Siem Reap ends, I will explore what it means to climb “like a girl” in Cambodia and then compare this to the female experience at the climbing mecca in Krabi, Thailand. I will stay in Siem Reap to attend a climbing competition, then climb at Cambodia’s first climbing gym and first outdoor climbing startup, and finally spend a week in Krabi. While climbing at these places, I will observe the gendered and demographic dynamics through personal participations, conversations, and informal interviews to compile a comparative analysis between the two countries. I hope to gain a broader awareness of the way my views as a Western feminist fit into the context, accessibility, and culture of climbing in Cambodia and Thailand.

Noreen & Barry

Lewis Chapman ’19

Noreen & Barry is part oral history, part cultural study, part theatrical performance. Through interviews and dialogues with my Yorkshire grandparents, I will present a theatrical performance in the spring semester incorporating elements of their life stories, as well as the history and culture of Northern England. Noreen and Barry Chapman lived through World War II, Margaret Thatcher, and 9/11, and they are some of the most entertaining and insightful storytellers I know. The performance that proceeds from the interviews will not only preserve their history as they experienced it; it will also preserve their razor-sharp wits and distinctive personalities for an audience unaccustomed to their beliefs, culture, and indecipherable accents. Noreen & Barry explores the concept of home, heritage, and identity. As it stands, the performance will be a one-man show performed by me, the last living male heir to the Chapman family name. I will embody my grandfather, my grandmother, and every figure they mention in their stories, collapsing a lifetime of ancestral experience into a single evening's performance. In doing so, I will assume the mantle of my family's history and acknowledge my place in the generational cycles that created me.

Making a Home: The Rhythm of Coupé-Décalé

Ally Watson ’19

Popular songs on the radio are more than just catchy, they reflect the culture from which they were produced. In West Africa, the dance pop genre Coupé-Décalé is more than just a reflection: it’s a story. The upbeat genre emerged from a politically divided country, and musicians blur the lines between the diasporic Ivorian community and the home. In its lyrics and beyond, Coupé-Décalé looks starkly at the international power relationships and national strife that enable its production. Through the fellowship, I will go to Abidjan to learn the drumming techniques that are the core of Coupé-Décalé, and explore the culture around the pervasive musical style. Ultimately, I will investigate the questions posed by the genre—what unites us, and how do we prevail?

Memorizing Ulysses: Encyclopedism and Ars Memoriae

Stephen Valeri ’19

I will travel to Dublin, Ireland, in order to commit passages of James Joyce’s Ulysses to memory using a mnemonic method known as modus loci. My project would resurrect the historical link between the respective traditions of encyclopedism (out of which Ulysses comes) and the art of memory. The use of modus loci, which involves placing articles to be memorized along a familiar route in one’s imagination, would be particularly appropriate to Ulysses, as it charts the peregrinations of numerous characters through the city of Dublin. As I retrace the steps of characters by visiting the locations they visit in Dublin, I will commit events of the novel which occur in those places to memory. I will also enhance my knowledge of the novel as much as possible by visiting local sites that provide information about the work, such as the James Joyce Centre. Reconstructing the events of the novel through lived experience would lead me to consider the respective places of phenomenological and personal experience, historical facts, literature, and philosophy in a system of knowledge. I would produce journals that reflect on this theme, the process of memorization and the encyclopedic form, and Ulysses itself. (Read more about this project.)

The House of One: Utopias in Progress

Sara Cordoba ’19

The House of One refers to an ongoing cultural and architectural project to promote religious tolerance in Berlin. It is being built on the historic site of what used to be Berlin’s first church. As envisioned by the project promoters, a church, synagogue, and mosque will stand together, unified under one roof. What society does this project imagine it is building? Visiting the building will guide my answer.

Exploring Flamenco Rhythm

Lucia Fernandez Calleja ’19

Flamenco is not about the elegance of straight lines, nor about the grace of perfectly controlled movements. Flamenco is not about creating beauty, although beauty results from flamenco... sometimes. Flamenco is about reaching deep within and asking whatever is there to take possession. It is about flirting with it, becoming it, and then begging it to exit, to allow itself to be pushed out, onto the stage where those wordless things become transmuted into a collective effervescence of strings, beats, and violent movements. After they’ve been said, they leave behind nothing but silence, a communal exorcism.

I believe that it is the percussive nature of flamenco, its rhythm, the cajon, the palmas, the stomping of the shoes, and the slapping of the whole body, that allows for this collective experience of trance. This winter I want to explore this uniquely soulful character and its relation to rhythm. I will travel to Madrid, where my grandmother was born into a family of flamenco dancers, get in contact with my distant family and take advanced flamenco percussion lessons. I will also work with one of my favourite dancers to develop a choreography, that I will present next semester during Reed Arts Week.

Constructing Hong Kong's History

Mia Leung ’19

Hong Kong and its people have undergone no less than 5 major regime changes since 1840. I am interested in understanding how such major changes in government by three major world powers influenced economic and political norms on the island. As its seventh regime change in 2047 grows near and mainland Chinese influence becomes more pronounced, it is more important than ever to understand how this Special Administrative Region of China came to be the vibrant trade and cultural powerhouse it is today. I will start my search at the Hong Kong Museum of History to better understand not just Hong Kong’s history but the construct of its history. I will continue my project by traveling to different parts of the island, visiting historical locations, and viewing films and other primary sources.

Multiethnic Food, Architecture, and Culture in Peru

Stephanie Gee ’20

The recognition and celebration of multiracial identity is a recent phenomenon in U.S. history. Being multiracial myself, I have only recently begun to embrace that part of my identity. However, Peru has been defined by its multiethnic heritage for centuries. In a desire to better understand my own multiracial identity, I will travel to Peru to investigate a place where multi-ethnic identities are not just accepted, but cherished. I will do this primarily by exploring Peruvian food and architecture—both of which were shaped by Peru’s fusing ethnic populations. I will visit restaurants serving Peru’s three main cuisines: “Criollo,” Peruvian comfort food with indigenous, African, and European roots; “Nikkei,” Japanese-Peruvian cuisine; and “Chifa,” Chinese-Peruvian. I will also visit Santo Domingo and Machu Picchu, whose architecture, respectively, highlights the duality of conflict and unity that can arise from fusing cultures. My findings will be documented through photography and interviews with locals; these will then be shared as photojournalistic-style blog posts. By exploring the multiethnic identity of Peru, I hope to better understand my identity as a multiracial American, contribute an international perspective to Reed’s conversations on race, and to inspire hope—rather than fear—about the increasingly multicultural future of America.

Exploring Conceptions of Gender in Cuba Through Casino de Rueda

Rose Cole-Cohen ’21

Description: I will spend three weeks in Cuba studying Cuban style salsa, or casino de rueda, in order to contextualize my study and love for this dance form within a larger social, historical, and political context. Rueda is danced in the round, with pairs of dancers forming a circle and dance moves being called out by one person, the caller. Salsa, at its origin, reflects heteronormative ideas of gender and sexuality by assigning men the role of “leaders” and women the role of “followers.” The calls traditionally contain double entendres and jokes about flirtation. While the core steps remain the same, the names of the calls and the specific movements differ in different regions of the world and reflect different cultural meanings and realities. I have previously studied rueda in spaces that the traditionally gendered roles have been purposefully upended, and the dance has been queered in a way that reflects that space’s reality. During this project I will look to current and historical Cuban dance practices in order to learn about social conceptions of gender and sexuality as they are tied to Afro-Cuban history, enslavement, the Cuban revolution, and conceptions of public space.

The Dark Period: How Light Shapes Norwegian Communities During the Polar Night

Isabel Lewis ’19

I will be traveling to the two northernmost cities in the world, Tromsø and Alta in Norway, which both experience a significant polar night from November through January. Sunlight features as one of the most important design elements in constructing a built environment; both consciously and unconsciously, we shape our lives and homes around it. I intend on exploring the ways people prioritize different forms of light while the sun does not rise. Through photography, I’ll describe the role of both artificial and natural light in these cities by capturing it in public spaces, such as libraries, churches, parks, and the street, as well as writing some short essays about the way I experience this darkness and how it will greater inform my own design practices. Using the writings of Christopher Alexander, Pico Iyer, Henri Lefebvre, and others to reconsider the role of light in the built environment, I will study the way it brings people together and shapes these two cities on the edge of the world. Finally, I will spend time in Oslo, where I will organize and compile the photographs I have taken, alongside these writings, into a short book to be printed and bound in Norway.

Tags: Awards & Achievements, International, Life Beyond Reed, Sports & Adventures, Students