Students receive Otis, Phillips fellowships

One will go to Ireland to explore connections between the wilderness and the monastic way of life. Another will live with families in the Bolivian Andes to better understand ways urbanization and globalization affect rural society. A third will spend two months in Ethiopia researching trade between Africa and Europe.

In all, nine Bates students have received research fellowships that will take them to distant places this summer in pursuit of a deeper knowledge of the world’s workings. Six were named Phillips Student Fellows, beneficiaries of an award that provides major funding for research projects involving meaningful immersion in different cultures. Three received Philip J. Otis Fellowships, which support explorations of the relationship between humankind and nature.

Four of the Phillips Fellows are juniors: Edwin Amonoo, an economics major from Cape Coast, Ghana; David Charron, of Portland, who has a double major in psychology and theater; Fikile Mahlangu, a political science major from Endwell, N.Y.; and Katherine Marshall, a history major from Bethesda, Md. The others are sophomores: Mario Lugo, an American cultural studies major from Hartford, Conn., and Victor Rivera of New York, N.Y. (major as yet undeclared).

The Otis Fellows are Renee Blacken ’04, a double major in chemistry and religion from Ithaca, N.Y.; A. Currier Stokes, a sophomore from Gettysburg, Pa. (major as yet undeclared); and Christopher Urban, a junior environmental studies major from Monkton, Vt.

For her project Monastic Life and the Wilderness in Ireland, Blacken will explore the importance of the wilderness to the monastic spiritual mission. Concentrating on Cistercian and Benedictine monks in Ireland, Blacken will stay at different monasteries and hike to remote monastic sites and ruins to better understand why monks are drawn to such a way of life.

Stokes, for a project titled Energy Use, Culture, and Natural Place in Joquicingo, Mexico, will explore Mexico’s environmental history through the study of domestic energy use and agrarian practices in and around Joquincingo, a rural village in central Mexico. He will examine the influence of household energy use and farming practices on culture, community and sense of place in the natural world.

Urban’s project asks Can Quechua Agriculture and Religious Practices Survive Economic Development and Change? Living with rural families in two Andean communities in Bolivia, he will research how the global economy and city culture of Cochabamba influence the agricultural and religious practices of the pre-European, or Quechua, culture. Urban will relate this experience to his understanding of how economic pressures affect the sense of place among farmers in Vermont, his home state.

Among the Phillips recipients, Charron’s project is titled Exploring the ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’ Qualitatively and Quantitatively. He will work with a theater company in Antony, France, that practices “theater of the oppressed,” an interactive, improvisational and empowering approach to theater that addresses societal and political issues. Charron will document his experience with a daily journal, photos and movies.

Amonoo’s project is titled Funding Economic and Monetary Union in Africa: The Role of Africa’s Emerging Markets. Incorporating a five-week independent study at Bates and approximately eight weeks at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Amonoo will expand his studies of the economic and monetary union of Europe with Africa.

Mahlangu’s project is titled Women and Peacebuilding in Cape Town, South Africa. She will serve as an intern with a South African non-governmental organization, U Managing Conflict, that works to empower women while dealing with issues of racial and gender inequity that have negatively affected women’s lives.

Marshall, in a project called Responding to Visual Space and Political Aesthetics in Revolutionary Cuba, will spend eight weeks in Havana to investigate how the Cuban Revolution is visually defined through such sources as contemporary art, public monuments and billboards. Marshall will document her experience through photography and interviews with Cuban artists, museum workers and museum visitors.

Lugo and Rivera are collaborating on a research project titled Return Migration: Voices of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. They will conduct a six-week examination of realities and hardships experienced by Puerto Ricans and Dominicans during immigration and assimilation in the United States that caused them to return to their homeland.

Phillips Student Fellowships are part of the Phillips Endowment Program, an initiative of awards, honors and opportunities funded by a $9 million endowment bequest made to the college in 1999 by Charles F. Phillips, fourth president of Bates, and his wife, Evelyn Minard Phillips.

Established in 1996 by Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele, the Philip J. Otis Endowment commemorates their son, Philip, a member of the Bates class of 1995. A park ranger, Otis died attempting to rescue an injured climber on Mount Rainier.

The Otis Endowment sponsors the annual fellowship program and an annual lectureship on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology.

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