Berea College Student Wins Prestigious Thomas J. Watson Fellowship 2016-2017

BEREA, Kentucky—The Center for International Education is proud to announce that Berea College Nominee Moondil Jahan won the national competition for the 2016-2017 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship prize of $30,000.

Moondil will engage in purposeful exploration—traveling the world for 365 days—after she graduates in May.

Her project, “Journey through Rhythmaculture: Grieving and Rejoicing through Indigenous Drumming and Dancing,” will take her through Germany, Morocco, Spain, Peru, Ghana, Suriname and The Netherlands.

This journey, for Moondil, is not just one of exploring countries and cultures.  She explains, “My Watson project entails a journey both inwards and outwards, concurrently towards myself and others. I am humbled and thrilled to receive such an honor.”

Moondil has experienced sorrow and joy and felt them “through the indigenous music and dance of [her] motherland, Bangladesh.” “I have chosen to explore these art forms across linguistic, cultural, and geographic borders,” she notes, “A region is considered to have a rhythmaculture, when its culture fully embraces its traditional music and dance in every aspect of life. Delving into the rich and ancient tradition of drumming and dancing I will gain firsthand exposure to the world’s most remarkable performers while learning the cathartic powers of rhythmaculture at a global level.”

Berea College is the only school in the Commonwealth from which The Watson Fellowship accepts candidates.

This year, 152 finalists were nominated to compete on the national level from which 40 fellows were selected. The Watson pool continues to be extremely competitive. Berea College is grateful to be able to put forward candidates for this esteemed prize.

This year’s class of Watson Fellows comes from 21 states and eight countries. They exhibit a broad range of academic specialty, socio-economic background, and life experience. The 48th Class of Watson Fellows, will traverse 67 countries exploring topics ranging from climate change to incarceration; from technology empowerment to forced migration; from car culture to ethnoentomology.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, named after the founder of International Business Machines (IBM), offers graduating college seniors of “unusual promise” the opportunity to engage in one year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States. Its goals are to enhance the capacity for resourcefulness, imagination, openness, and leadership, and to foster humane and effective participation in the world community—in short, to develop future leaders who are self-reflective, well-informed, mindful citizens of the world. Each year, about 40 students receive $30,000 each.

To learn more about applying as a Berea student or recommending a student, visit:

To read Moondil’s project summary and the other 39 amazing projects, see:

#BereaAbroad #WatsonWednesday #BereaCollege

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