The Thomas J. Watson Foundation has named Berea College student Tuvshinzaya Amarzaya a 2015 fellowship winner. Amarzaya was selected as one of 50 winners out of a field of 700 candidates.
Her project—“Evolution of Cultural and Individual Identity Through Martial Arts”—will take Amarzaya to China, Japan, Brazil, and France to explore how changes in Shaolin Kung Fu, Ninjutsu, Capoeira, and Parkour practices affect martial artists’ sense of self.
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.
This year the Watson Foundation awarded 50 fellowships in the amount of $30,000, along with college loan assistance and an insurance allowance to each recipient. The awardees come from a small group of private liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States. Berea College is the sole school in Kentucky that can nominate students.
“As a firm believer in the transformative power of martial arts, I want to see how the martial artist’s sense of identity is affected by his or her practice,” says Amarzaya. “Everything that I tried and experienced left a mark on me and helped shape who I am today, but the martial arts carry a particular weight, as the practitioners take up philosophies and principles in addition to the physical training.”
Amarzaya, an international student from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, is majoring in psychology. She adds that the Watson Fellowship’s uniqueness is “a chance to pursue your quirky passions and childhood dreams over a year of independent and meaningful travel.”
Please visit Berea College’s Center for International Education’s page for additional information: www.berea.edu/cie/thomas-j-watson-fellowship/.