Presidential Fellows Set Off For Adventure

Ten students will pursue projects around the globe thanks to the President's Summer Fellowship.

May 3, 2019

As the spring semester draws to a close, ten new Presidential Summer Fellows are preparing to embark on adventures near and far. 

The fellows will each receive $5,000 to undertake 8– to 10–week summer projects that combine intellectual pursuit, imagination, adventure, personal transformation, and service to the greater good. Inaugurated by President John R. Kroger, with generous support from trustee Dan Greenberg ’62 and his wife, Susan Steinhauser, the fellowship program is now in its seventh year.

This year's winners will travel abroad to places like France, China, and India. They will serve communities including North Korean refugees and local fourth- and fifth-graders. Here, in their own words, are their projects. 

Documenting the Chinese Diaspora in France

Anqí (Eloise) Chen ’19

The Chinese Diaspora is an immensely understudied and under-documented subject in immigration studies. France has the largest number of Chinese dwellers 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. Through the span of a documentary filled with everyday encounters and intimate dialogues of the Chinese in Paris, 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. I will visualize the conditions of “être chinois” in Paris and the ever-evolving cultural dynamics facing the mainstream society and across generations, while addressing the psychological effect of colonialism, racism, xenophobia, estrangement, and other pertinent issues. This is a film of experience and of reflection and founded on a solid 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.

Developing STEM Curriculum for 4th and 5th Grade Students

Pixie Freeman ’21

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.

Studying the Sarod in India

Saba Goodarzi ’20

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 raga-s (melodic modes) and tala-s (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 that encapsulates my experience learning the sarod.


Finding the Origins of Little Red Riding Hood in France

Hannah Jensvold ’20

The story of Little Red Riding Hood seems to get at 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.

Teaching English to North Korean Refugees

Elizabeth Kim ’22

Between 1998 and March 2018, 31,530 North Korean refugees entered South Korea. Motivated by extreme hunger, persecution, forced labor and torture, and other violations against human rights, North Korean refugees settle 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 NKRs 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 SKs and NKs to interact. We aim to publish a book of their speeches and send one refugee to study abroad.

Examining Multicultural Space in Berlin, Paris, and London Mass Transit Systems

Mayaki Kimba ’20

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 a Dutch, Ghanaian, Nigerien, and Togolese background, I am personally and particularly interested in this social change. I furthermore seek to experience ideals and their subversion by traveling 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.

Researching Non-Verbal Interactions and Participating Dance Intensives in Europe

Soroa Lear ’21

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 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 vessels 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.  

Documenting Buddhist Funeral Rituals in China

Yi Liu ’21

How to interpret the relationship between life and death, and accordingly handle the impermanence in life, has long been the implicit question 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 for anyone who takes the meaning of existence as their own concern. The documentary aims 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.

Collecting Oral History from Intersex Persons in America

Keegan Samaniego ’21

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, AR, 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 folks. 

Exploring Narratives of Ecology on the Pacific Coast

Aislin Steill ’21

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 travel to several unique ecosystems along the northern and central Pacific Coast, 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 through these environments. I will document these coastal organisms and habitat through purposeful compilation of observations, natural history, imagery, 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 liminal space between human and environment, land and sea, factual and figurative, I aim to craft a journal that puts a distinctive and compelling voice to the character of these ruggedly exquisite ecosystems.


Tags: Awards & Achievements, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, Giving Back to Reed, Life Beyond Reed, Students