Walker Grant Student Testimonies
The Latin American Studies Program offers Colby students the opportunity to apply for up to two Walker Grants for internships and service learning, cultural immersion and language training, and independent research. Scroll down for exciting descriptions of the research, immersion, and travels that our students have financed with their grants.
For my Jan Plan internship, I traveled to Lima, Peru with 3 other Colby students as an extension of Professor Franko’s class regarding Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Latin America. After studying best practices, pitfalls and various examples of CSR in the classroom, we partnered with a local Peruvian NGO, Pásala, in order to further study the possible benefits of corporate partnerships. … After working in the field for two weeks, in concert with Professor Franko, the other students and I investigated potential partnerships and authored a short history of Pásala and a new website for the NGO. Using these tools we engaged with possible local and international partners, like larger corporations and private schools. The knowledge gained through working directly at Pásala for two weeks was invaluable as we have a greater understanding of their needs and are able to convey this message to future partners. Colby has provided my peers and me with the unique opportunity to both further my studies in a foreign country while also allowing the chance to be a positive influence on youth and their development.
My experience in Costa Rica was great. I got to see a beautiful country, interact with a beautiful people, and learn about a new country all while learning how better to speak Spanish! I’m glad I got to go with two friends as it made the trip more fun overall, but the trip would have been wonderful regardless. Particularly, the Costa Rican landscape was incredible. The landscape variation was incredible and over the three weeks I was there, the mountain backdrop of both CPI locations didn’t wear off. At CPI, the classes were both engaging and educational and I can honestly say that my conversational and listening Spanish have improved tremendously. I feel far more confident returning to a Spanish-speaking country soon!
On top of all of this, I think that there was a profound personal growth that took place on this trip. I had never traveled abroad without a parent before this trip, and it was hard. However, working through this led to a great enjoyment of the trip and returning feeling stronger than I had when I left. I would recommend a travel experience like this to everyone, and it’s an opportunity that is at your fingertips with the generosity of Colby’s Latin American Studies department. I wish I could do it over again! I’m very glad I went to Costa Rica for the JanPlan of 2019.
It is hard to imagine a world outside of our own, especially if we have never dared to step out of our comfort zone and see. With all the readings, case studies, and lectures that you can take, nothing compares to conducting fieldwork and being immersed in the culture. This experience has truly been amazing for me in terms of connecting my relevant coursework to real-life situations. It has allowed me to think outside the box and problem solve complex situations. Additionally, I have known gratitude like no other after being on this trip to the extent that I feel it has positively influenced my behavior and decision making in various situations. I am so thankful to have been a part of this journey and I hope that others dare to step out of their comfort zones and try something new.
My experience in Costa Rica was everything I hoped for and more. I was able to improve my Spanish greatly, as well as immerse myself within a new country. Traveling alone for the first time helped me grow as a learner and it was all made possible by the generous Walker grant. Everyday I took conversational Spanish classes from 8-12 and then explored the surrounding cities and beaches on the weekdays. I became close to my host family and ate two meals a day with them while they taught me about the customs in their culture. On the weekends, I was able to make trips to National Parks and different parts of the country that display great natural beauty. This experience was so valuable in encouraging me to continue my studies of Spanish and Latin America. I highly recommend this trip to other Colby students who are interested in furthering their Spanish speaking skills and studying Latin America.
I interned at Hope Border Institute in El Paso, Texas. Living in the southern border region has been a unique experience. During my time there, I experienced a different reality than that which politicians present the southern border region to be. This opportunity has furthered my goals as a social justice advocate and informed citizen. Beyond advocating for basic human rights and humane immigration policies from a moral ground, the research I conducted was based on facts and supported alternative policies than those that are currently in place. Working alongside individuals who are passionate and share the same mission as I was gratifying. The best part of Jan Plan was feeling like I was contributing to an important cause and seeking alternative solutions to a binational humanitarian crisis. This experience along with the research I did over the summer and both my majors [Latin American Studies and Government] have only confirmed my continued desire to pursue a career in social justice work centered on immigration. I realized that the research work I engaged in was meaningful in presenting alternative solutions, yet these cannot be implemented without policy advocacy. As a result, I want to continue working with immigrant communities and further build my research skills.
During Jan Plan I traveled to South America for an interview-based project investigating the effects of trade conflicts and oil pipelines in Bolivia and Chile. My interviews were primarily conducted in Spanish. During my five-week trip, I interviewed farmers, plumbers, business professionals and an economist who previously worked for the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was based in Arica, Chile and also interviewed employees of the TPA (Terminal Puerto de Arica), a privately-owned enterprise that focuses on importing and exporting goods in the Northern Chile. While in Bolivia, I traveled to Sica Sica, a remote village near La Paz, to met with local residents and discuss the overall sentiment felt toward a nearby pipeline. In Arica, I surfed frequently and connected with local surfers affected by the poor water quality associated with the same pipeline. I shot 25 rolls of medium format black and white film in South America. I will develop and print my photographs using our campus darkroom. In May, I will share my prints and conclusions during the CLAS presentations. I would like to thank the Latin American Studies Department, the Environmental Studies Department, and the Photography Department for supporting this project.
I had the wonderful opportunity to spend two months during the summer in Buenos Aires, Argentina and I enjoyed every second of it. I received the Walker Grant to live in Buenos Aires and do two internships. One internship allowed me to shadow doctors and work in a public hospital, which gave me valuable experience and gave me insight into the world of medicine. Through my second internship I was able to work with a public health organization and do some meaningful research on public health policies and projects. Everyone I worked with was kind and I was able to learn more about public health. Both of these internships have helped me in deciding what kinds of careers I want to pursue.
Besides these two internships, I also enjoyed being in the city and eating a variety of delicious food, exploring the beautiful architecture, walking through different neighborhoods, drinking Yerba mate, and just meeting new people. Learning about Argentina and Buenos Aires in lecture is very different than learning from experience. I never would have imagined traveling to Buenos Aires alone, but I’m grateful to have been given this opportunity to travel and learn about another culture and also learn about myself and what I would potentially like to pursue as my career.
During Jan Plan 2018, I received a Walker Grant to attend an intensive Portuguese program at Caminhos Language Centre in Rio de Janeiro. I attended group classes in the mornings and participated in a variety of cultural activities offered by the language school in the afternoons. Apart from taking group classes, I also took private classes to improve my conversation skills and to avoid errors that people with prior knowledge of Spanish tend to make. I was fortunate enough to have learned a lot of Portuguese in a very short time and to have engaged with the Brazilian culture outside of the classroom. I went to forró dance classes, saw a football match in the Maracaña Stadium, and visited a couple museums in the city. Through attending the cultural and social events organized by the language school, I was able to connect with my classmates and professors, as well as to immerse myself in the Brazilian culture. After four weeks, I felt like I could have a simple conversation with Cariocas with ease. I enjoyed my time in Rio de Janeiro and I highly recommend Caminhos Language Centre to Colby students who are interested in learning Portuguese. It was an incredible opportunity to study a language that is not offered at Colby currently. As a double major in Latin American Studies and Economics, I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn Portuguese, a language spoken by millions of people from an emerging economy. Looking back, I had an amazing time learning Portuguese in a cidade maravilhosa (the wonderful city). This experience has definitely reaffirmed my passion in Latin American studies and shaped my future plans.
The Walker Grant allowed us to spend the full month of January in Peru doing research in Maternity centers in and around the city of Lima. We visited Taller de Los Niños, Instituto Nacional Materno Perinatal, and La Casa de Panchita. With the help of our extended team, assembled by Professor Patrice Franko in collaboration with the NGO Supporting Child Caregivers, we were able to conduct over 50 interviews of mothers, nurses, and psychologists, collecting qualitative data on infant caregiving practices in Peru. We developed a relationship with Taller de Los Niños in San Juan de Lurigancho, and have carried this project into the semester by conducting a literature review to compile a manual for mothers of infants. In addition, we were able to travel to places like Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, and Huacachina over the weekends. We feel so appreciative because this experience would have been impossible without support from the Walker Grant.
This past January I received a Walker Grant to travel to Santiago, Chile to conduct research for my Senior Honors Thesis on the black market for medical abortion in Chile. I spent the month of January interviewing nineteen government officials, doctors, lawyers, and nonprofit workers in Santiago and in Valparaiso. I had the chance to speak with officials from the Ministry of Health, and with a range of frontline feminist activists. On the weekends, I had the chance to go surfing in Pichilemu and to go hiking in the Cajon de Maipo. I had a wonderful time returning to Santiago with the Walker Grant, and was able to research a topic that would have been completely inaccessible to me in the United States.
During January of 2017 I was fortunate to receive a Walker Grant from the Program to travel to Guatemala City. As part of my Senior Honors Thesis in Latin American Studies, which focuses on recent Guatemalan challenges and successes in prosecuting high-level corruption, I interviewed ten government officials, nonprofit employees, and journalists. These interviews contributed to my understanding of the process of anti-corruption in the Central American country. One weekend I was able use my personal funds to travel to Lake Atitlán and learn the art of weaving from a local women’s cooperative. With the support that the Walker Grant gave me, I had a successful fieldwork experience for my thesis. Without the Grant I would not have been able to research a topic that continues to evolve in Guatemalan and global politics.
During JanPlan 2017, I received a Walker Grant for to travel to Lima, Peru to conduct archival and historical research for my Senior Honors Thesis in Latin American Studies on women during the Sendero Luminoso war. I was able to visit two different archives, the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and the Centro de Información de la Defensoría del Pueblo, where I examined primary sources unavailable in the United States. I read testimonies, newspapers, and government documents, which enriched my understanding of women’s lives and the social memory of women during and after Peru’s internal armed conflict I also visited several war memorials in and around Lima to complement my research. On the weekends, I was able to visit Ayacucho as well.
Thanks to a Walker Grant and colleagues of Professor Franko, I had a great experience during my research internship in Rio de Janeiro at Brazil’s Escola de Comando e Estado Maior do Exército (Army Command and General Staff College). I worked in the library of the school under the supervision of a professor from the civilian sector of the institute, João Marcelo Dalla Costa. For the project, we began by looking into Brazilian effort to both modernize their armed forces and shore up their domestic defense industry. Throughout the internship I examined internal studies and data from the programs, the military, and the companies involved to help the team of professors by narrowing down the subject matter for an eventual paper. Our research team was especially interested on the level of integration with the local economy such as use of local suppliers. Living in Rio de Janeiro and working at the military institute at the Praia Vermelha was a rewarding experience and presented an opportunity to pursue an interest not offered at Colby, and I will have a chance to continue it for the rest of the semester.