Ama Ghar, which means “motherly home” in Nepali, is a sanctuary for disadvantaged children in the hills above Kathmandu, Nepal. This January, as a Goldfarb Center L. Sandy Maisel Fellow, I traveled halfway around the world to join the Ama Ghar family. I spent my time at the home getting to know the forty different children, playing card games, hide and seek, and music, while tutoring in math and English during the afternoons and evenings. As I got to know them, I learned about the various backgrounds that led them to call Ama Ghar their home. I heard stories of extremely difficult childhoods: some kids were orphaned, some were abandoned, and some had families so impoverished that they never had enough food, let alone a quality education. My days were fun filled and humbling. I had the chance to spend time with the warmest, kindest and funniest kids I’ve ever known, and to see the immense challenges that Nepal faces through the eyes of children that bear a great deal of its burden. These difficulties didn’t lead to a home full of sadness, however. Instead, I was witness to a living example of just how healing and supportive a family can be. The Ama Ghar children have transcended deeply rooted social boundaries and built a large, loving, and truly supportive family. My experience with them was challenging and a true inspiration, and has left me with stories and wonderful experiences that could fill up a book. For now though, I will say that it has quite powerfully changed my life. So to the Goldfarb Center and the students of Professor Sandy Maisel who made my incredible experience possible, thank you!Mischa Noll,'11 - Recipient of 2010-11 Maisel Fund Internship Grant
This January I traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark for three weeks on a generous grant for student research from the Goldfarb Center. My research was titled Sustainable Solutions to Climate Change through Public Action: An Ethnographic Case Study of Bicycle Use in Copenhagen, Denmark. In conjunction with a year-long senior research project comparing the efficacy of climate policy between Denmark and the United States, the trip allowed me to actively engage with my two majors – Anthropology and Science, Technology, and Society – through independent fieldwork abroad. While in Copenhagen, I explored the infrastructure and culture that facilitate bicycling. I worked with professors and PhD students at the University of Copenhagen, conducted interviews with individuals at the City Bike Program and the Metro, and experienced urban bicycling first hand. Through these interactions and my stay with a host family, I learned that Copenhagen bicycling culture exists because top-down government policies make it economically disadvantageous to travel by most alternative means of transportation. It is therefore not local or social agency alone that encourages sustainability, but the combination of pervasive social attitudes with effective national policy. Needless to say, my experiences in Copenhagen were both rewarding and extremely challenging. Though my research abroad lasted less than a month, the lessons learned truly strengthened my passion for a career in environmental anthropology and climate change policy, and I am very excited to pursue graduate study in this field after Colby.
Danielle Sheppard, '11 - Recipient of 2010-11 Maisel Fund Student Research Grant