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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Three Carl seniors win prestigious Watson fellowship

<ee Carleton seniors have been granted the prestigious Watson Fellowship for the 2011-2012 year. Adam Karas ‘11, Matthew Fink ‘11, and Kai Knutson  ‘11 will each receive $25,000 for 12 months of international travel to explore a self-proposed topic of interest. The Watson Fellowship is for graduating students attending one of the 40 participating colleges or universities. This year, 40 students were chosen from a pool of 148 applicants. Carleton tied with Grinnell College (Iowa) and Hamilton College (New York) for the most number of applicants accepted.

Karas, a Political Science and International Relations major, will be spending his year traveling with Bedouin communities in Jordan, Syria, and Tibet. “I’ll be studying how the Bedouins live, hunt, sell food, and communicate with other tribes,” said Karas. “I also want to get a macroscopic view of how they interact with the foreign influences in their societies.” Karas will start in the south of Jordan and spend four months learning the Bedouin lifestyle while observing how they adapt to modern culture. Next, he will go to Syria with an educational caravan that provides formal education for children of Nomadic tribes. Karas will spend his last four months in Tibet, utilizing his Mandarin and studying the nomadic agricultural groups. “I imagine myself working in the Middle East or East Asia, dealing with tribal culture, networking, and the politics of the area,” he said. “I definitely want to do something where my Arabic and Mandarin language skills will help me.”

Fink, also a Political Science and International Relations major, plans to spend his time divided between Sweden, Germany and South Korea to examine pro-gaming cultures and their affect on people with disabilities. “I will be exploring the countries and cultures I am immersed in, in an attempt to connect with other people with disabilities who game in the hope of better understanding how technology has and continues to change their lives,” said Fink. “My ultimate goal is to both practice as a physician in a foreign country and be involved in health and disability policy internationally… My Watson will give me the chance to connect with disabled people in a number of other cultures so that I can better understand the unique challenges they face and the way that disability is seen and understood by others.”

Knutson, a Biology Major, will travel to Turkey, India, and Mongolia to study how ancient cultures have incorporated yogurt into their daily lives. It will not only be a discovery of various societies, it will also be a scientific study. “I will travel to regions where yogurt has been cultured for millennia and seek the oldest, wildest strains of the bacteria that produce its characteristic flavor and texture,” Knutson said. “Through a microscope, I will survey the bacteria that create yogurt, compare those in industrial yogurt cultures to those sustained within traditional varieties, and share this perspective with the people I meet.”

Watson Fellows are provided with a unique opportunity to travel the world and employ their experiences for future international careers. There are currently 2,600 Watson Fellow alums. Many go on to hold leadership positions, becoming doctors, CEOs and college presidents. As stated on the Watson Fellowship website, the end goal is “to foster their humane and effective participation in the world community.”

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