|At left, Marlon
Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 received Thomas J. Watson Foundation
Fellowships, which facilitate independent projects abroad.
Watson Fellowship Allows Seniors to Study Abroad
Two Wesleyan students will have the opportunity
to travel abroad and conduct independent studies as Thomas J. Watson
Marlon Bishop ’07 and Leigh Senderowicz ‘07 each received the $25,000 award.
The Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship provides graduating college
seniors with a one year fellowship to explore an independent project outside
of the United States, to enhance their capacity for resourcefulness,
imagination, openness, and leadership and to foster their humane and
effective participation in the world community.
Approximately 195 students were nominated to be Watson Fellows; of these,
only 50 were accepted. They come from 24 states and seven foreign countries.
Louise Brown, associate dean of the college and campus liaison, nominated
Bishop and Senderowicz.
“We are delighted that Marlon and Leigh will have this unequaled opportunity
to experience learning on a global scale, “Brown says. “They will not only
engage in a project about which they are passionate, but also experience the
personal and intellectual stretch from undertaking an independent project in
countries outside the United States. Being awarded seven fellowships over
the past five years is a wonderful recognition of the intellect, creativity
and character of Wesleyan students.
Bishop will travel to the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Uruguay, Ecuador and
Brazil for his study “From Punta to Palos: Exploring the Hidden Afro-Latino
Musics.” Senderowicz will travel to Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Turkey for
a study titled “Taboo and Tolerance: Reproductive Health in Cultural
Bishop's psroject comes from a personal musical connection to the
African-derived musical styles of the United States, a great interest in
Latin America and its cultural milieu, and a musicological education at
Wesleyan. The Queens, N.Y. native started playing piano when he was 10, and
started performing musical jams at the age of 14. He’s explored rock,
American blues, soul, funk, jazz, classical and Afro-Cuban music, and at the
age of 16, developed a fascination for Latin American culture and music
during a visit to Peru.
Bishop recalls playing his charango, a small Andean string instrument, and a
group of teenagers with guitars and flutes came by, curious to see what a
“fair-haired gringo” was doing with a local instrument. Though he only knew
a handful of chords, it was enough to play along and he and the Peruvians
spent the rest of the day playing.
“Though I spoke little Spanish at the time, I was able to communicate
meaningfully with people who lived a world apart through music,” Bishop
says. “The Watson year will take my personal, musical, and academic
development to the next level, synthesizing the knowledge I have achieved
into a single vision of the cultural processes that make music what it is.”
Senderowicz will look at how women's health is affected by the laws of a
nation, the dictates of culture, the directives of religion, the politics of
international development organizations, and the values of the women
themselves. Specifically, she will examine reproductive health choices by
looking at the situation at each rung of the ladder as aid money travels
from international organizations down to women seeking health care.
She intends to talk with administrators, doctors, nurses, traditional health
care practitioners, and most importantly, women seeking reproductive health
care at non-governmental organizations and local health clinics.
“The biggest thing I hope to accomplish is gaining a sense of what my role
in a broader global context should be,” Senderowicz says. “I’m going to use
this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a chance to re-engage and try to
figure out where I can make positive interventions.”
The foundation selects its fellows by identifying individuals who
demonstrate leadership, resourcefulness, imagination or vision,
independence, integrity, responsibility and emotional maturity and courage.
A candidate's academic record, while not of primary importance, is also
considered, together with those extracurricular activities that reflect both
initiative and dedication.
Watson Fellows must create, execute, and evaluate their own projects.
Fellows set their agenda and decide how questions can be answered, when it
is time to move on, if a project must be adjusted in any way. All fellows
are required to maintain contact with the foundation during their year
abroad, and submit a final evaluation.
“I'm very lucky not to have to jump into the grind of a career, and want to
make the most possible out of this year,” Bishop says. “A year of travel,
adventure, new sights and sounds, education, the joy of exploration of a
little-studied subject. It all sounds like a great experience.”
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection