Earlham College says it is one of two schools in the country to have three Thomas J. Watson Fellows for the upcoming academic year. The fellowship program is named after the late founder of IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and allows students to spend a year studying outside the U.S. March 20, 2014

News Release

Three Earlham College students of “unusual promise” have been awarded $28,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowships for one year of post-graduation independent study and international travel. The College is one of just two institutions nationwide to produce three Fellows for the upcoming academic year.

Basil Farraj ‘14, Maggie Jesme ‘14 and Cheyenne Stewart ‘14 will study alternative Palestinian identity, the incorporation of traditional medicine in post-conflict societies, and birth justice in the Americas, respectively.

This year, the Thomas J. Watson Foundation awarded 44 fellowships to students from 29 of the foundation’s 40 partnering institutions. Earlham is joined by only Wellesley College as institutions producing three Watson Fellows. Other prestigious institutions producing Fellows include Rice and Lawrence universities, and Berea, Davidson, Union and Grinnell colleges.

“That Earlham students received three of the 44 fellowships speaks volumes about the caliber of our students,” says Earlham’s Watson Fellowship Liaison Julie May. “These particular winners have tremendous passion about their projects. They are also projects with personal relevance.”

Farraj, a peace and global studies major, titled his project “Palestinian Borderline Identity: A Quest for an Alternative Palestinian Identity.” He will travel to Chile, Norway, France and the United Arab Emirates.

“During my Watson year, I will analyze the notion of a uniform Palestinian identity that I have always been exposed to and functioned within,” Farraj wrote in his project summary.

Jesme, a peace and global studies major, will pursue a project called “Healing Sans Hegemony: Exploring the Incorporation of Traditional Medicine into Post-Conflict Healthcare Reconstruction.” She will study in
Rwanda, India, Nepal, East Timor and Bolivia.

“The post-conflict era can bring revolutionary reconstruction of community and state healthcare structures, expanding the sphere of access to healthcare,” Jesme says. “However, the prevalence of the international community in such reconstructions too often privileges occidental medicine, silencing local voices and notions of healing, as well as marginalizing traditional medicine.”

Stewart, a biology major, titled her project “Parto Humanizado (Humanized Birth): Exploring the Birth Justice Movement in the Americas.” She will study in
Chile, Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Trinidad-Tobago, and the Bahamas.

“All of the countries are at different places in their realization of this global birth moment, and each locale has a unique vision of birth justice,” she says. “The movement is particularly unified within the Americas, where many cultures still have ties to traditional birthing practices. I will explore these unique visions and struggles while looking at the relationship between the traditional and the modern.”

Since 1968, the Watson Fellowship Program, named for the late founder of IBM, has granted more than 2,700 Watson Fellowship awards, with stipends totaling more than $29 Million.

For more information, visit the Fellowship program’s website.

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a “College That Changes Lives.” We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' “Great Schools at a Great Price.”Source: Earlham College

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