When National Public Radio reporter Dan Charles attended a UN conference on climate change in Trinidad last fall, he found the meeting less intriguing, he reported on NPR, than a young man he met there. Davis UWC Scholar alumnus Juan Hoffmeister Patiño (Costa Rica, Pearson UWC, College of the Atlantic ’07) was on a Watson Fellowship — one of a growing number of scholars who have made the most of postgraduate fellowships.
“Since last summer,” Charles reported, Juan “has been on a voyage of discovery, a yearlong tour of places that may bear the brunt of changes in earth’s climate.”
“I really was trying to understand — how can we find global solutions?” Juan said. He had set out to record how low-income communities were adapting to climate change; but he wound up hoping that the report he compiled after visits to Trinidad, Fiji and Viet Nam will highlight the shocking impacts that global warming is bringing to communities close to the margins of survival.
Other alumni scholars have also grappled with complex issues on postgrad fellowships:
- Princeton ’08 grad Scott Moore (USA, Hong Kong UWC) spent this year studying environmental policy in China on a Fulbright Scholarship. “China Green Space,” his blog from Beijing, noted that China’s government seems willing to encourage grass-roots environmental action. That’s a “cheap and relatively easy” option, wrote Scott, who this fall will move to Oxford to study ways of bringing about sustainable environmental change — this time, as a Rhodes Scholar.
- Late in ’08, Adelina Voutchkova (Jamaica, UWC-USA, Middlebury ’04) completed a PhD program at Yale in organometallic chemistry (“It has a lot to do with green chemistry,” she explained) through a Yale Dox Fellowship. The winner of the American Chemical Society’s NSF Scholar Award, Adelina has been working to set up a lab on her native island in collaboration with the University of the West Indies and the Yale Center for Green Chemistry. A first project: developing a new way of using the waste matter from aluminum production, a Jamaican industry, in making catalysts for producing hydrogen. “I’d like to give something back,” Adelina said.
- Also on Watsons, Anna Kurien (India, Mahindra UWC, Wellesley ’04) studied French-based Creole cultures in Haiti and Martinique, along with English-based Creoles in Jamaica and St. Lucia; and Nandita Dinesh (India, Mahindra UWC, Wellesley ’06) worked with performance groups in Guatemala, Northern Ireland, and Rwanda to understand theater’s potential for addressing conflict.
- Other scholars who have won Watson Fellowships include Hector F. Pascual Alvarez (Spain, Hong Kong UWC, Macalester ’08), who studied the role of the theater director in community-based performance settings in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and the UK. Nikhit D’Sa (India, Mahindra UWC, College of the Atlantic ’06) collected the stories of street kids in Ireland, Ghana, Fiji, Jamaica and the UK. Asma Husain Prager (Pakistan, UWC Atlantic, Colby ‘05) examined planned cities in Brazil and India. Ana Maria Rey Martinez (Colombia, Mahindra UWC, COA ’08) gathered the life stories of former coca growers in Peru and Bolivia. Vani Sathisan (Singapore, UWC Adriatic, Middlebury ’07) explored theater “as an informal system of education and empowerment” in Malaysia, Australia, India, South Africa, and Argentina. And Emilia Tjernstrom (Sweden, UWC Norway, Colby ’06) surveyed nomadic pastoralists caught between development and conservation in Mali, Mauritania, Tanzania, and Mongolia.
Additional alumni who have earned postgrad fellowships include María Lis Baiocchi
(Argentina, UWC Adriatic, COA ’07), the Human Rights Initiative Project Management Fellowship, Human Rights Center, Central European University; Chikoti Mibenge (Zambia, UWC Adriatic, Wellesley ’07), the Sarah Perry Wood Medical Fellowship; Livia Vastag
(Hungary, UWC Norway, Middlebury ’07), the George B. Rathmann ’51 Graduate Fellowship
in Chemistry at Princeton; and Grace Waruchi Wanjiku (Kenya, Hong Kong UWC,
Wellesley ’06), the M.A. Cartland Shackford Medical Fellowship.
Finally, Paulina Ponce de Leon Barido (Mexico, Pearson UWC, Wellesley ’05) earned
both a Watson — she studied appropriate technologies for energy in Peru, Sri Lanka, Mali, Madagascar and the Dominican Republic — and a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship for