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Fulbrights: First Two Winners Announced

<te: Because Fulbright Scholarships are announced at varying times depending on the invididual’s country of interest, The Carletonian will be covering them on a weekly basis. Stay posted!

With the beginning of the term comes the first announcements of 2013-2014 Fulbright Scholars—with two recently announced from Carleton, and potentially more to come.

Sophie Daudon ‘13, a senior Environmental Studies major, was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct research on Greece’s emerging ‘back to the land’ movement, while Molly Rapaport ‘13, a senior Political Science/International Studies and French major, was awarded a Fulbright grant to travel to Burkina Faso to research the impact of polygamy on female economic autonomy.

Daudon will be studying the evolving social phenomenon of Greeks leaving urban settings to return to rural agriculture, which is seen by many as a traditional occupation in their country. The evolving trend is also due in part to the profoundly negative effect of the recent global economic recession on the Greek economy, which has left many Greeks jobless.

“I think it’s an interesting example of a back to the land movement that isn’t typical,” Daudon said of the trend. “[It is unclear] whether it’s purely economic, what other ideas are involved, if it’s a sustainable and viable move, whether they are able to support themselves without degrading the environment.”
Daudon’s background provides her with multitudinous experience to examine the Greek situation. Daudon studied ENTS in Madagascar as a junior, a trip that she described as challenging both physically and mentally.

“It was exhausting… a lot of the time I was on my own [in the field],” she said. Daudon also managed the Carleton farm during the 2011-12 academic year, conducted interviews of farmers as a part of a summer internship, and most recently wrote her Senior Comprehensive Project (comps) on local food systems in Northfield.

Daudon will be conducting her research primarily in affiliation with the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece, the preeminent institute for agricultural studies in that country. “The School is where many of the adults who have lost their jobs and are learning how to farm are going,” Daudon said. She will be advised by Evangelos Vergos, the director of adult education and research at the School.

Meanwhile, Rapaport will be working with shea butter collectives, including Fédération Nununa, Burkina Faso’s largest. The production of shea butter is an almost entirely female-dominated industry, making it a good case for study. 

Rapaport cited both her professor Cherif Keita and her study abroad program in Mali as particular influences in the development of her project. While in Mali, she first became exposed to different types of polygamous familial structures, sparking her interest in their effects on women, financially and socially.

“I enjoyed the Mali program to an extent that I can’t even articulate,” she said. “Mediating between the two poles of American values and what was culturally normative in Mali was tough and interesting and enlightening.”

Both Daudon and Rapaport expressed excitement, and also uncertainty, regarding their upcoming year abroad.

“I don’t know what I’ll find when I get there, and it’s possible that I’ll find a situation completely different from what’s depicted in the media,” Daudon said of her expectations. “I’m pretty nervous, honestly, but I get more delighted about the thought [of the trip] as time goes on.”

“I’m thrilled and excited to go back to Burkina and to explore these issues again,” said Rapaport. “I can’t wait to talk to people! But I have to keep in mind that everything could — and probably will — change once I’m there.”

The Fulbright program was originally founded in 1946 as a passive means of spreading American influence during the Cold War, and has since come to buoy the outstanding achievements of some of the world’s finest intellectuals. Grants are highly competitive. Daudon was one of 345 applicants from among a pool of over 2000 that were accepted to conduct research in Western Europe.

Traditionally, Carleton has been one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars, with six Carleton students or alumni named as Fulbright Scholars in 2012. Daudon is the first announced Fulbright scholar.

“I’m very excited for the yogurt,” Daudon joked when asked what she looked forward to during her time in Greece.

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