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Seven Awarded Class of 1938 Travel Fellowships

Seven UNC students have received UNC Class of 1938 travel fellowships for research abroad this summer.

The students were chosen from 42 applicants who submitted proposals for projects outside the U.S. Selection is based on the quality of an applicant’s proposal, financial request and seriousness of academic purpose. Each will receive $5,000.

Six of the students received 2013 Class of 1938 Summer Study Abroad Fellowships. Chosen by committees that included class of 1938 members and former fellows, the recipients are North Carolina residents Etiti Akhame-Ayeni and Portia Polk, both of Charlotte; Matthew Leming of Asheville; Madison Morgan of Sedalia; Leonora Tisdale of Durham; and Casey Crow of Pagosa Springs, Colo.

Kieran Fell of Huntington, N.Y., received the Charles H. and Margaret M. Witten Travel Award, also $5,000. Class of 1938 members Dr. Charles and Margaret Witten established the award in 1992.

Every year since 1975, an endowment created by the class of 1938 has funded independent projects abroad by UNC students. Class members, who lived through and lost friends to World War II, created the endowment dedicated to help foster international understanding and promote world peace.

“The students awarded the Class of 1938 Fellowship for a Summer Project Abroad in 2013 represent studies and interests in the sciences, the arts, social justice, law, journalism and mass media, nursing, business and sustainable development,” said Jane Rosenberg, assistant director for international student and exchange visitor services at UNC’s International Student and Scholar Services, the office that facilitates the administration of the fellowship. “As they pursue their research abroad, the Class of 1938 Endowment Committee is proud that these students will represent the spirit of Carolina, and we look forward to all the contributions the students will make at UNC and in the community at large through the experience they gain abroad.”

The recipients’ studies and interests reflect both arts and science:

  • Akhame-Ayeni is a junior transfer majoring in global studies. With her fellowship, Akhame-Ayeni will live in Senegal, where she will take Wolof language courses at the West African Research Center to conduct field research in Senegalese art and fashion. She will first explore the African fashion industry, which culminates during Dakar Fashion Week, an emerging annual five-day showcase of African ingenuity and creativity that provides a platform for designers across the continent to gain exposure and increase their presence in global consumer markets. Akhame-Ayeni will attempt to show how Dakar Fashion Week helps elevate the status of Africa on the international scale and how it promotes a narrative of Africa that is beautiful, plural and progressive. Not only is she seeking inspiration and material for her accessory company, but also hopes that this study will be the first of many field studies that she will conduct for a global campaign to promote African creativity, entrepreneurship and beauty.
  • Polk, a junior majoring in anthropology and peace, war and defense, will travel to San Miguel, Panama, to volunteer as a community outreach intern with a sustainable development organization. While interning, Polk will conduct research on the perception of water privatization. She will give 10 disposable cameras to Panamanian locals. With these cameras, the locals will take pictures of what water means to them. Polk will then create a Photo Vision project, which will tell each Panamanian’s story through images. She will use interviews as the main source of research to express how locals feel about the impact of privatization of water.
  • Leming, a sophomore majoring in computer science and Russian, will study in Russia at the St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University and will intern in its distributed intelligence systems laboratory. He will work under the head of the laboratory to research the modernization of control of continuous technological dynamic systems.
  • Morgan, a sophomore majoring in journalism, will travel to Uganda to profile the work of TivaWater, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the distribution of biosand water filters across rural Uganda. Over the course of the summer, Morgan will interview both TivaWater employees and Ugandans who have received TivaWater filters. She will then create a short documentary to generate awareness for TivaWater’s work as well as water issues around the world.
  • Tisdale is a junior in the School of Nursing. She will travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, to intern in a public health clinic. Tisdale will work alongside Mexican health care providers to gain understanding of the health care system. She also seeks to gain both cultural understanding and better Spanish language skills to bring back to her practice as a nurse working with Latinos/as in North Carolina.
  • Crow, a sophomore majoring in political science and global studies, will travel to Kenya to conduct research on disability rights among children. Her study will examine legal, socio-economic and cultural implications for disabled children in Kenya with the hope of identifying effective policy-making strategies. Crow’s research is expected to culminate in an honors thesis in addition to a student organization to raise awareness for disabled children within the UNC community.
  • Fell is a senior majoring in music. With her Witten Travel Award, she will travel to Ireland to take a series of lessons on the traditional Irish flute. She aims to gain a better understanding of the way in which Irish music, specifically flute, is incorporated in the daily life of Irish people, and how music connects to other elements of their heritage, such as traditional dance. Fell will visit archives of community centers to study printed music, exhibits, and traditional instruments in a search for evidence of ways that traditional music and other Irish customs have influenced each other historically, and how these interactions continue today. The opportunity to study with traditional musicians and conduct research on the interdependent elements of Irish culture will provide Fell with an additional reservoir of experience to express her musical passion. She hopes to organize demonstrations of Irish flute and discussions of her cultural findings to share the knowledge with the UNC community.

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