Fellowships and Grants – Why Watson?


– I think it’s impossible for me to think about my Whitman experience
and my post-Whitman experience without thinking about
the Watson Fellowship. It really feels like it was a bookend to my Whitman experience and really my first career after Whitman. – It’s like a million experiences
that someone might have in their lifetime just put into one year, which is really overwhelming, honestly, and also really, uber-powerful. I’m still unpacking a
lot of the experiences because I had to move from place to place. You don’t really have time to process, and so even today, things will come up, a memory will come up that
I’d totally forgotten of. – One of the great values
of the Watson Fellowship is that it expands on all of those things that the Whitman experience
has brought to bear, the critical thinking, the self-awareness, the awareness of other,
community engagement, all of that post-Whitman
is carried forward on one’s own, as a Watson Fellow. – The Watson, in some ways,
sounds like this incredible, dreamt-of version of how to live a year after you graduate from college. And hearing about this idea that you have to make your own project, this kind of a
leadership-centered focus to it, but also a lot of learning
and a lot of humbleness that’s probably built into
that international journey. So much of that resonated with me. – The Watson is a unique
fellowship in the sense that it’s not solely dependent
on who has the best grades or who has the best academic record. It has a lot to do with something that you are personally passionate or intensely interested in, and whether you have the
wherewithal to organize that idea into a year-long independent study. The title of my Watson
Fellowship was, “Kids at Play, “a Cross-cultural Exploration
of Children’s Games “and Childhood Experiences.” But essentially, I played games
with kids around the world, in seven countries, for a year. I wanted to learn about how children play, what their games can tell us
about cultures and societies as they’ve changed over time. I was also interested
in the right to play, which is a human right that
children are guaranteed, and I was looking at how kids
embrace that right to play, and sometimes were not able
to embrace that right to play, in different contexts around the world. – A lot of the seeds of
the Watson year started with my academic curiosity around hip-hop and social change at Whitman, and that stemmed into not
only activism on campus, but then wanting to explore that globally. And the Watson allowed a
platform, a springboard, for me to do that in a very real way, living in six different
countries around the globe, asking the Public Enemies
or the key hip-hop players around the globe who are making
different social movements by way of hip-hop, how they’re doing that, and learning from that experience, and then also participating
in that movement-building by making music together. – And they may go on to
conventional careers, they may go to graduate school, but they’re going into those occupations with a heightened sense of themselves and the world around them, from that year. – I think one of the main
ways that it served as a tool in my life, other than career-wise, is knowing that I can
build community anywhere, and knowing that what I
need to be well in a place and to be effective, is in me and is in the place that I’m in. And so I think that was
really challenging at first, creating community and being okay with just being with myself, but that opportunity has
made me incredibly strong and independent and really
trusting of the people around me and trusting of them to
serve as my community, even if it’s just for a moment. And it’s not just for a moment. I have friends all over the world now. (upbeat hopeful music)

You May Also Like

About the Author: Oren Garnes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *