The Fries Center for Global Studies has launched a one-year pilot program called the Wesleyan Global Fellowship. The prizes go to graduating seniors whose passion, imagination, and independence led to their being selected as university-wide nominees for the Watson Fellowship, but who did not win a Watson. The 2021 Wesleyan Global Fellows are William Briskin ‘21, Grace Lopez ‘21, and Indigo Pellegrini de Paur ‘21.
Will Briskin, a government and history double major, plans to study woodworking. “The traditional craft is in decline as modern manufacturing replaces handmade items,” he said. “During my Wesleyan Global Fellowship, I will immerse myself in cultures of creativity in Japan and South Korea to understand the intersections between culture and craftsmanship, individuality and invention. Through interviews with woodworkers and by participating in the creative process in these countries, I will study how woodworking shapes relationships and binds communities, both to one another and to their collective histories. I hope to discern who is passing these traditions on, why they have been able to stand the test of time, and how the intergenerational transfer of craft knowledge impacts the individual.”
Grace, a film studies major with a strong interest in anthropology, will use their Wesleyan Global Fellowship to explore the diaspora of Cumbia (a music genre), its transformations, and grief from community displacement that informs the genre. Grace plans to travel to Colombia, the origin of Cumbia, and will work with Afro-Colombian bands who have been creating music for decades with Cumbia’s root instruments. They hope to stay in Colombia for six-seven weeks during the summer. Grace expects that it will be a wonderful experience to travel to where it all started and learn about people’s perception of Cumbia’s diaspora and transformations.
Indigo Pellegrini de Paur, a government major with a minor in Middle Eastern studies who competes on the women’s lacrosse team, will spend a month in Istanbul, Turkey, observing how refugee communities interact with new spaces meant to help integrate groups into Turkey. Turkey’s Youth and Sports Ministry is in the process of building 28 sports facilities where youth refugees are concentrated. Turkey is pushing to run sports programs that include Turkish children and refugee children. As an athlete herself, Indigo will employ the universal language of sport to connect with individuals with whom she does not share a common language.
Wesleyan is one of 41 schools that partner with the Watson Foundation, and each year we may nominate 4 candidates. Watson Fellows receive $36,000 to spend their postgraduate year pursuing an independent, experiential project in multiple countries outside the U.S. Applicants must show passion for their project, imagination, independence, leadership, and resourcefulness. The program is open to graduating seniors of all citizenships and academic backgrounds. There is no minimum GPA requirement.
The Watson is a unique program because it gives the fellow complete freedom in designing their project. Since the fellowship involves travel, usually to distant locations, nominees who didn’t win the Watson might not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue any part of their project without institutional support. The Wesleyan Global Fellowship supports their personal growth and affords them invaluable intercultural experience, allowing them to spend up to one month in one or more of the countries they included in their Watson proposal.