Bates students awarded Phillips, Otis fellowships

Twelve Bates College students have been awarded fellowships to support unusual off-campus research.

Seven were named 2004 Phillips Student Fellows, recipients of an award that provides major funding for summer research projects involving meaningful immersion in different cultures.

Five have received Philip J. Otis Fellowships to support exceptional research into the relationship among individuals and societies and the natural world.

Four Phillips recipients are sophomores: Aarjan Dixit, of Kathmandu, Nepal; Samuel Falls, of Hartland, Vt.; Cynthia Freeman of Cameron, Ariz.; and Sarah Mazur, an English major from Norwich, Vt. The remaining three include two juniors — John Karass of Whitefield, Maine, and Rachel Silver, an anthropology major from Houston, Texas — and one first-year student, Kathryn Moore of Pelham, N.H.

The five Otis Fellows are Colin Hollister, a sophomore from Pittsfield, Mass.; Peter Keays, a sophomore from Madison, N.J.; Nicholas Martin, a junior economics major from Hopkinton, N.H.; Khoabane Phoofolo, a sophomore from Maseru, Lesotho; and Brian Wilmot, a junior political science major from Bellingham, Wash.

These are the Phillips Student Fellows and their projects:

For his project titled “Traversing the Ganges,” Dixit will examine whether the economic gains from India’s Inter-Rivers Linking Project, which will harness major rivers to transport large volumes of water into dry regions, are large enough to cover concomitant economic losses and social and environmental consequences. Traveling to cities along the Ganges, he will interview pilgrims dependent upon the river, local religious leaders and academics at the Banares Hindu University.

Fall’s project is titled “Theravada Buddhist Pilgrimage to Wat Suan Mokkhabalarama.” He will travel to Wat Suan Mokkhabalarma, a Theravada Buddhist monastery in southern Thailand, to expand his understanding of Buddhism through first-hand exposure to its practices and beliefs.

Freeman will use her fellowship to explore the intersections among African Americans and indigenous people in the Seminole community of Texas and Mexico, looking particularly at the experiences of women. She is interested in how the many “Black Indians” among the Seminole are perceived by both indigenous and African American communities, how the two cultures merge and how families are structured.

Mazur and Moore will work together on a project titled “The Evolution of Celtic Music and Culture in the Canadian Maritime Provinces and Southern Appalachia.” They will visit northeastern Canada and southern Appalachia in the United States, regions where Celtic music and culture first arrived on this continent. They will attend musical festivals, jam sessions, community dances and the Ceilidh Trail School of Celtic Music in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and will interview and play with various musicians.

Karass, in a project called “Following the Footsteps of Epicurus,” will follow the geographical path of Epicurus, the last prolific Greek philosopher to teach in Athens. Karass will trace the spread of Epicurus’ philosophy, a unique blend of atomism and hedonism, from its beginnings on the Greek island of Samos across the Aegean Sea to Athens, hoping to gain a better understanding of a philosophy that still influences contemporary thinking.

For her project “Exploring Purposes of Schooling: Harambee Education in Kenya,” Silver will live, teach and conduct research in Ebukhaya, a rural community in Kenya. She will work at a school in the NGO-run Harambee program to better understand how Kenyans regard this grassroots, community-based approach to education and how they distinguish these schools from standard government schools. She will focus on tensions between the vestiges of colonialism and the egalitarian values on which Harambee schools are built.

And here are the Otis Fellows and their projects:

For their project “The Appalachian Trial and a Sense of Self,” Hollister and Keays will hike the entire Appalachian Trial to better understand why individuals become through-hikers and how the experience influences one’s sense of self and relationship with the natural world. Through interviews, photography and personal experiences, they will investigate the AT’s “through-hiking culture.”

Martin, for a project titled “Mining in Mongolia: How Do the Herders Fit In?”, will explore the effects of the Ivanhoe mines in Mongolia on the traditional nomadic people of the area around the mines currently under development. He will speak and interact with the herders to learn more about the place of Mongolian culture in a changing world.

For his project “Lesotho’s White Gold,” Phoofolo will take part in a grassroots project to bring water security and improved sanitation to Lesotho. He will also explore the human impact of four major dams constructed as one of Africa’s most ambitious engineering schemes, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Wilmot’s project is titled “How Individuals, Governments and NGOs Balance Environmental Preservation and Economic Growth.” He will spend the summer in the region of Russia around Lake Baikal, an enormous freshwater lake of great environmental, economic and spiritual importance to Russians, Siberians and Mongolians.

Phillips Student Fellowships support students who design exceptional international or cross-cultural projects focusing on research, service-learning, career exploration or a combination of the three. The best Phillips Fellowships are challenging and transformative experiences for the students who undertake them.

The Phillips Student Fellowships, Phillips Faculty Fellowships and Phillips Professorships at Bates 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.

Otis was deeply concerned with nurturing a sense of responsibility for the natural environment. The Otis Endowment sponsors opportunities for study, exploration and reflection by students, faculty and other members of the Bates community. The endowment also supports an annual lectureship on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology.

Each year a small number of students, usually two to five, are selected as Otis Fellows to receive grants between $2,000 and $5,000 to support off-campus projects that explore an environmental and/or eco-spiritual topic. Otis projects typically involve substantial off-campus research or reflection, usually accomplished during the summer or a Short Term leave.

View Comments