Stories from the Field: 2021
It's old news that this last year has been challenging and strange for everyone, not least for Shansi Fellows. But that didn’t stop Shansi from holding fast to the requirement that our Fellows submit Stories from the Field to share with our community. The group responded with an array of tales of Shansi Fellowships during the global Covid-19 pandemic, telling a story of their adaptability, resilience, and dedication.
You’ll find stories from each of our current Fellows on the Shansi website, and each provides a different perspective on a year unlike any other in Shansi history. Two stories from first-year Fellows illustrate just how different the 2020 Shansi experience could be for our Fellows.
Jenn Lin ‘20 is a first-year Fellow with Shanxi Agricultural University, and her story, Filling in the Blanks: An illustrated narrative, includes what the title implies––beautiful illustrated reflections on the first part of her Fellowship, conducted from home. Jenn starts off by telling us “I wasn’t sure where to begin when I started writing down my reflections of this past semester. It felt like my Shansi experience had been incomplete. In March of 2020, I exited college abruptly and found myself back where I started. Even now, I’m still writing this report out of my childhood bedroom in New York.” But what she shows us is how well she and her students managed to connect despite the challenges of distance.
While most of Shansi’s new Fellows started their work remotely, Sheng Kao, Shansi’s current Independent Fellow, arrived in Taiwan in October of last year and has been able to undertake a more familiar experience of navigating the beginnings of a two-year Fellowship. We are excited to feature her insightful, nuanced reflection of one aspect of life in Taiwan––the trash collection system. Below is an excerpt from Thoughts on Trash.
“Every day except Sundays and Wednesdays, paper recycling accepted Mondays and Thursdays, plastic recycling accepted Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I have this schedule memorized, and while I wouldn't say that having to remember when to take out the trash and recycling rules my life by any means, it is a comforting rhythm that outlines my otherwise irregular routine.”