Shansi Awards Six In-Asia Grants

(Back row) Thu Le, Yasmine Ramachandra, Kirsten Mojziszek, Yan Yu, Naomi Fireman, Yael Reichler

(Front row) Mohit Dubey, Gloria Lewis

Not pictured: Laura Li is currently studying abroad

Oberlin Shansi has awarded In-Asia Grants to six intellectually and socially engaging projects for Winter Term and summer in 2017. The projects will take place in China, India, Japan, and Vietnam. Shansi congratulates Mohit Dubey; Gloria Lewis; Thu Le; Laura Li and Yan Yu; Yasmine Ramachandra and Kirsten Mojziszek; and Yael Reichler and Naomi Fireman on their projects.

The In-Asia Grant provides up to $1,500 to Oberlin College & Conservatory students to support creative initiatives in East Asia, Southeast Asia, or South Asia, including internships with non-governmental organizations, art explorations, environmental research, or other projects during Winter Term or summer. These competitive awards are given for projects that relate to Shansi's goals of encouraging communication and mutual exchange between Oberlin and Asia, and make a contribution to other Oberlin students’ understanding of Asia. The award is open to First-, Second-, and Third-Year students.

Winter Term 2017

Mohit Dubey ’18 is a double degree student majoring in Classical Guitar and Physics. He will spend his Winter Term tracing his Indian roots as well as performing music for different communities within India. For the first half of his project, he will perform classical guitar at multiple concerts organized by the US Embassy American Center, a local music supporter and philanthropist and a women’s empowerment group in New Delhi and Lucknow. Dubey will spend the latter half of his trip giving master classes at local schools in Hyderabad and studying Carnatic music, which is associated with Southern India, with Dr. Karaikudi Subramanian at the Brhaddhvani School in Chennai. When he returns to Oberlin, he will share his experience with a concert that features both Western classical and Carnatic music.

Gloria Lewis ’18 will travel to Madurai, India with Dance Diaspora, Oberlin’s West African dance ensemble. In Madurai, Lewis and the other group members will be connected with Lady Doak College and assisted by Vanessa Champagne, Shansi’s current Fellow. Lewis will engage in a cultural exchange of folk dances from West Africa and southern India. Afterwards, Dance Diaspora will travel to Bajul, Gambia where Lewis will learn Mandinka dance and drumming, and study about the transatlantic slave trade. Lewis hopes to deepen her understanding of the Africana diaspora through art and dance, which she will incorporate in her capstone project.

Laura Li ’18 and Yan Yu ’18 will spend January filming a documentary on the contemporary youth scene that focuses on the emergence of independent music and films in Beijing, China. They will interview local Beijing musicians and filmmakers, and document the artists’ lives, including challenges and accomplishments. Both Li and Yu hope this documentary will help shed light on youth culture and current art trends in Beijing.

Thu Le ’19 will return to Vietnam to expand the Human Library to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Human Library is a project that originated in Copenhagen, where volunteers from marginalized groups act as human books and engage in one-on-one conversations with participants interested in hearing more about their lives. Le has already organized the very first Human Library in Hanoi last year, and now wants to bring the project to Ho Chi Minh City to further challenge deep-rooted discrimination against underprivileged groups.

Yasmine Ramachandra ’19 and Kirsten Mojziszek ’19 will spend their Winter Terms volunteering at the Shiv Ganga Animal Helpline in rural Mehsana, India. As students on the pre-health track, both Yasmine and Kirsten hope to gain hands-on medical experience in a larger cultural context. They will spend the majority of their time caring for stray and injured animals, and helping with vaccinations and other basic tasks. When Ramachandra and Mojziszek return to Oberlin, they hope to start a discussion on campus about the varying levels of medical care for animals in foreign countries.

Summer 2017

Yael Reichler ’19 and Naomi Fireman ’19 will be in Japan from June to July studying the local food system by focusing on rice farming and its deep significance in Japanese cuisine and culture. They will stay on a rice farm and closely observe the physical labor involved, the process of the local food system, and the role that the local food system plays in Japanese culture. Reichler and Fireman hope the Oberlin community can further learn from Japan’s local food system. This is a timely opportunity for Reichler and Fireman to explore environmental work in an international setting.

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