Chase Fellows



For my Chase Fellowship, I decided to focus on global communication--in two parts. First, I traveled to Kenya to live and volunteer at The Lord’s House of Hope, an orphanage on the outskirts of Nairobi. I played tons of games, helped with homework, cooked, and brought a duffle bag full of arts supplied donated by the Branson community so I could teach crafts at both the orphanage and the local school. For the second part, I flew to Tunisia as an intern for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting to attend a conference on social media and storytelling for Libyan NGO workers. I was able to conduct a series of video interviews on the intersectionality of gender and religion with some of the women, which opened my eyes to yet another world so different from my own.


When I was in kindergarten, my parents adopted my younger brother from Russia and completely shifted my perception of family. From this experience, I learned that my capacity for love could be a means to connect with others. I’ve always wanted to revisit the experience of being at an orphanage when I was more mature and had a larger set of tools with which to work. So, when I had the opportunity to go to Kenya, I jumped on it. In terms of my internship, I was connected to IWPR through a family friend and, for the sophomore year Modern World History research paper, I ended up referencing many of their articles. Their mission is what inspired me to reach out, but it was their power to unite people from around the world that cemented my interest in the NGO.

What was an unexpected lesson?

Both these experiences helped me rethink our relationships with those different from us and consider how the power of a story or shared experience can bring us together. Communicating and taking risks with communities different from our own is how we understand each other as individuals and human beings. This is not a new concept, but one I believe our world would benefit from revisiting. If we go back to the basics of human connection, I am convinced that our world would be a much more compassionate place. All we need is a capacity for love and the ability to listen in order to change our world.


What did you do for your fellowship?

For my fellowship, I shadowed in an ambulance and at a hospital in Meschede, Germany for two weeks. During my time with the emergency medical team, I rode along with the paramedics for every emergency and also experienced a night shift in which I worked from 5 pm to 7 am. Much of the day was spent waiting at the emergency services headquarters, but it was important to always be ready for an emergency call. During my time at the Meschede Hospital, I watched surgeries and gained a deeper understanding of a day in the life of an anesthesiologist. Both opportunities were unlike anything I have ever done and very memorable.

What was your inspiration?

I am interested in emergency medicine and have taken several classes throughout high school, and I wanted to better understand the techniques of real-life emergency doctors and paramedics. As a mountain biker, I have gained an appreciation for emergency medicine, and being able to see professionals at work was very inspiring.

What was an unexpected lesson?

I knew medicine was a very technical art, but during my fellowship I was surprised to find how important social skills and human connection were as well. Many times, a stubborn or mentally impaired patient would refuse treatment, rendering technical medical techniques useless. It was during these times that a calm, collected, and convincing paramedic was vital to the survival of the patient. This is an aspect of medicine that had never occurred to me, and something I will never forget.

2016 CHase Fellowship Recipient: Gemma kelton '17

What did you do for your Fellowship?

I studied Arabic in Rabat, Morocco with a State Department fund­ed program, the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLIY). Then I traveled to Amman, Jordan and volunteered with an organization called Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), which helps match displaced individuals from Syria with employers around the world.

What was your inspiration?

I know what it’s like to be displaced, so I could relate to the people I worked with, even though I left by choice and they did not. I believe that no human being should ever be left without a home. Everybody deserves someone.

Also, I love language, people, and cultures and the idea of immersing myself in a new culture. The Fellowship gave me the perfect way to acquire more Arabic and use it to connect with people on a deeper basis.

What was an unexpected lesson?

It made me realize that the term refugee is a very negative term. When I talked with displaced individuals (the term they prefer), they told me that all they want is to be recognized as individuals and regain their dignity.

I also learned that I truly do want to work for social justice—I want to dedicate my life to those efforts.

2016 CHASE FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENT: sophia leswing '17

What did you do for your Fellowship?

I traveled to Taipei to interview migrant workers for my documen­tary called One-Forty. In Taiwan 1 in 40 is a migrant worker. As a way to illustrate the plight of these workers, I interviewed three migrant caretakers in my film.

While in Taipei, I was an intern for the Garden of Hope Foundation. They try to promote unity between migrant caretakers and the resident population—who are often hostile to these workers. I also interned with Red Room, a nonprofit that unites the Taiwan­ese with international and expatriate communities through visual arts, spoken word, music, and other art. Finally, I worked at Happy Corner, a place designed to improve relationships between mi­grant workers and their employers.

What was your inspiration?

I wanted to combine and pursue three of my passions: social justice, Chinese culture, and filmmaking. Mandarin teacher Shu-Chen Lin ignited my love of Chinese language and culture. Modern World History teacher Hilary Schmitt opened my mind to international relations. Doing a research paper for that class on the illicit sex industry in Thailand, I learned about many human rights atrocities in Southeast Asia.

What was an unexpected lesson?

I learned firsthand how institutionalized sexism plagues women around the globe.