Our transition to REmote School in March preempted the announcement of our Class of 2021 Dan Leslie Bowden Fellows in the Humanities. It gives me great pleasure to report to you now on the fourth group of scholars to whom we have awarded this fellowship to support advanced summer study in the humanities: Isabel Almada-Sabate '21, Sebastian Hicks '21, Ricky Andrade '21, Valeria Solorzano '21, Shuli Rosenfeld '21, Emma Rosenthal '21, Brooke Scott '21, Mateo Jolivert '21, Yuhan Liu '21 and the team of Danny Amron '21 and Kiran Desai '21.
The fellowship honors Dan Leslie Bowden, who during his 63 years in various roles at Ransom Everglades, but primarily as an English teacher, inspired thousands to courageously explore in their work and in their lives what it means to be human. In the last month, the fellows have been rethinking and recasting their fellowship projects, crafting contingency plans and developing new designs to respond to the ways COVID-19 may alter their work.
Isabel Almada-Sabate plans to explore the place of faith in the story of immigration. By studying immigrant communities centered around the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Homestead, Florida, through their place of worship and investigating the role of other organizations such as Groupo Medios, Isa will look at the ways in which faith offers a unique form of motivation, support and community for immigrants both before and during their migrations, and once they have settled in a new place. While some of this work can be done remotely, Isa still hopes to execute her original plans travel to Mexico City and visit communities in Homestead should the public health circumstances allow. Isa will deposit her research in its final form in the archives of the organizations that she studies, as well as the Ransom Everglades School archives.
Sebastian Hicks initially planned a photo essay documenting the recovery efforts from Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas; he has now shifted his focus. Sebastian still hopes to travel to the Bahamas this summer and intends to examine the hardships of the island nation in the aftermath of the hurricane. He will now focus too on how the people of the Bahamas are responding to COVID-19. Sebastian is aware that healthcare in the out islands has been especially challenging. Sebastian hopes to be able to learn more about community and resilience as he tackles this difficult subject.
Ricky Andrade will explore the “humanity in healing” through a series of interviews with medical providers and patients involved in craniosynostosis treatments. Ricky’s effort will consider and document the human experience of medical treatment, and investigate how innovations in medicine can improve not only the physical, but psychological and emotional, quality of life for patients. While his initial plans included travel to El Paso, Texas, to interview one of the leading physicians in the area of craniosynostosis treatment and his patients, Ricky now is working on ways to engage physicians and patients virtually. Ricky plans to share the results of his research in an original podcast.
Valeria Solorzano still hopes to travel to Mexico to study the benefits of the work of Construyendo, a non-profit organization that builds houses and classrooms in rural Mexico. Having volunteered with Construyendo herself when she lived in Mexico, Valeria has a personal connection to the powerful outcomes of the work of this group. While construction has ceased for the time being, Valeria is in communication with the director of Construyendo and is optimistic that she will be able to make her visit later this summer. In the meantime, Valeria is conducting research on Construyendo and on education in rural Mexico, as well studying the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 in small, rural settings in Mexico.
Shuli Rosenfeld has designed a project that seeks to share her passion and knowledge of cooking and culture through a course she designed for the Breakthrough Miami summer program, and in doing so, better develop her own understanding of the interaction of culture and identity. “My vision is to facilitate a creative space,” Shuli writes, “where high-risk kids ... can explore food through the lens of history and culture ... I will urge them to see food as a vehicle in exploring family history and cultural background and ultimately, how they tie into self-identity. I hope they leave this experience with a better understanding of themselves and how the food on their plate reflects a part of their identity.” Shuli is prepared to take her program virtual if she cannot share a kitchen in person with her students this summer. Shuli has a Plan B to facilitate the acquisition of the necessary ingredients for her students, and offer live and pre-recorded video sessions so that her students can carry out the detailed menus she has created – experiencing cuisines from North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa – in their own homes.
Inspired by an AP U.S. History research project on the muckraking photographer Lewis Hine, Emma Rosenthal’s original plan included a behind-the-scenes study of youth protest movements, captured through photography. With the March for Science in Washington, D.C., cancelled, and for the time being the ability to conduct in-person interviews thwarted, Emma has pivoted. “During quarantine,” she writes, “I have gone out to photograph some of our community’s reactions to this pandemic. I have pictures from grocery stores, closed parks, restaurants and everyday life that help demonstrate this aspect of members of a community coming together to do what they can for each other….. Although this doesn’t follow the 'Youth in Activism' proposal ... my new photos could prove that activism does not always have to be bold, confrontational or even visual, but rather that it is a social effort.” Emma will publish a journal of her work at the conclusion of the project.
Brooke Scott has been doing extensive historical and contemporary research on gentrification in west Coconut Grove, and contacting a wide range of interview subjects for the project she entitles “Miami’s Manifest Destiny.” By studying the issues, exploring the landscape, and interviewing residents, developers, government officials and other stakeholders, Brooke intends to produce an original video documentary that presents the various points of view informing life in west Coconut Grove today and makes an original contribution to the understanding of the human experience in this historic and evolving Miami neighborhood.
Mateo Jolivert’s volunteer work has inspired his fellowship project. Mateo received a scholarship to attend the University of Chicago’s summer writing program (now online). There he will take the course “Awakening into Consciousness” virtually. Mateo’s study of writing will then inform original research focused on patients in hospice and palliative care.. Mateo’s original plan included interviews and photographs exploring the human condition at the end of life. Given the vulnerability of these patients, while Mateo is hopeful that eventually he may be able to do some work in person, he plans instead to try communicating with patients by phone or video conference. Additionally, instead of the creative approach to photographing the hospice experience he had originally planned, Mateo now is considering inviting patients to share their own pictures of objects that encapsulate their personal story. Mateo hopes to bring together his images and interviews and his own reflections in a piece that can be shared publicly.
Yuhan Liu’s plans to attend a course at the Art Institute of Chicago have likely been derailed. Not deterred, Yuhan intends to pursue her study of surrealism independently while practicing her craft. Through her own surrealist art, Yuhan will question how dreams, thoughts and stories can be conveyed through art as she uses her work to share her own worldview. Her end goal, of putting up an original show of her own work at the Solomon Art Gallery at the upper school, remains in place.
Danny Amron and Kiran Desai are prepared to move forward with their study of community by focusing on street basketball leagues and tournaments in New York City. The nature of the project now has some uncertainties, such as whether the basketball tournaments Danny and Kiran planned to study and film will be cancelled. They are prepared to resort to conducting phone interviews, and may shift the focus of their documentary toward the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on these street basketball communities, and how these communities have been affected without the presence of these basketball games that formed a central part of the collective experience. As a last resort, if travel and even contact with those in New York is not feasible, Danny and Kiran are prepared to focus their work on street sports communities in South Florida.
Dr. John A. King, Jr.
Associate Head of School