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While studying civil engineering I continuously attempted to deconstruct conventional engineering applications and blur these divides, but my engineering education upheld the traditional theories of compartmentalization. In water treatment and distribution classes I was taught to design large plants-central locations fenced off to the community, often unbeknownst to the urban dweller turning the faucet to gather water. When my studies presented an opportunity to write a prescription for combined sewer overloads, an actual urban illness caused by overdevelopment, mine was the reintroduction of nature through an extensive implementation of green roofs. After the project ended, I continued on to co-author a paper on the applicability of low-impact designs in urban settings. Frustrated by the lack of research and literature on how to easily integrate green roofs into current engineering design theory and equations, I conducted hydrological tests on green roof planting material. Currently, I am working on publishing these findings with the purpose of aiding engineers in the New York Tri-State area with this integration.
Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 10 Immediately after graduation I traveled to Ghana and found myself instinctively questioning where this developing nation drew the boundary between the constructed and the natural. While observing Ghanaian life, I discovered that often the natural landscapes overshadowed the constructed, and at the center of life was the community. I witnessed a society where urban congestion, the natural environments, living spaces, technology, and the community are not a separated patchwork, but rather are woven to become a more vibrant cloth. In more rural areas, my reaction was that the constructed environment, including technological infrastructure, did not define the boundaries of life, but rather coordinated with the natural and cultural realms already in existence.
Engineers are often stereotyped as being human calculators, unreceptive to the social parameters surrounding the project at hand, crafting quilts with squares organized into grids preventing any overlap.
In many aspects, regions of Ghana seemed to be the photonegative of the large city situation where underdevelopment, nature, and the community could define the face of technology. This curiosity motivated me to return to graduate school and explore how water treatment and purification can occur under monetary and chemical-resource limitations. My current experience as a graduate research assistant for a NSF-funded project on global research ethics will help me further shape my research by examining the cultural impacts filtration infrastructure imparts and what ethical responsibilities an engineer has to the community. Thus, I will continue to map the existing boundaries between nature, the built environment, and culture.
Essay Four I grew up in the upstate New York town of Saratoga Springs, a Victorian spa resort whose motto, "Health, horses and history," announces its glamorous origins. My family's Empire-style home, built in 1836, exemplified the cloudy mingling of reality, culture and history that continues to inform my work today. Victorian architecture embraced not only the connection between interior and exterior decoration, but also the design of everything from furniture to rugs to silverware, generally believing that all things necessary to life should be made beautiful. Yet, the Victorian era — as it is understood through literature, religion and philosophy — was a time of doubt, brought about by a quickly changing era of industrialization and historicism. In my paintings, I explore the contradictions of bourgeois longings, the clash between the reality of everyday life and the histories that we invent and cling to, as exemplified by the contradictory Victorian era. My immersive, large-scale canvases contain disjointed images - of contemporary and historic rooms inexplicably installed as if in a single home - that balance representation and abstraction. Melding the public and private, the handcrafted with the anonymously mass-produced, I create paintings that are connected to history and to my experience as a woman in America.
If my hometown presented one store of images, my experience studying in Italy gave me an insight into the relationship an individual or a society could have with public art. In Italy, I made regular visits to Lorenzetti's 14 century masterpiece, "Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government," commissioned by the original government of Siena and installed in the Palazzo Publico. The fresco, depicting both visionary and corrupt societies, detailed the everyday actions and roles of its citizens. Experiencing the "Allegory" in the space it was conceived transformed the fresco from a static image into a public symbol connected to the history and social fabric of Siena.
Taking lessons from my childhood home and "The Allegory," I strive, in my own work, to bring art and architecture, history and community, into meaningful dialogue, creating paintings that complicate space, and installations that transform galleries into domestic environments.
Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 11 This convergence of home and decoration is at the center of the home-painting tradition, practiced by Indian women, which I intend to study. While scholars recognize the richness and complexity of these traditions - the geometric alpana designs are studied by computer scientists - they are also largely personal rituals, passed down from generation to generation and created for private audiences. I am eager to pursue my creative research in the feminine traditions of home arts in India, and to deepen my understanding of the relationship between ritual and life. A year spent in India is an opportunity to catalyze my creative growth, share my art-making process and make lifelong connections. In the future, I look forward to continuing my artistic practice, seeking new challenges in life and in the studio, while pursuing a career teaching at the university level.
Essay Five When I first saw a skeleton hanging on the window of a house, I shrugged and wondered what type of neighborhood my family had moved into. What else could I think? I was a recent immigrant from Israel and the concept of Halloween was one of those American cultural entities which I had yet to learn about.
It was the start of several years' worth of an interplay involving mutual ignorance on my part, regarding American culture, and on my American peers' part, regarding mine.
In fact, this was not the first immigration in my family's history. Both of my parents emigrated from Romania to Israel after World War II. The consequence was that sentences in our household sometimes started in one language (e.g., Romanian), were interjected with a phrase from a second (e.g., English), before finally being terminated in a third (e.g., Hebrew).
When I arrived to the United States (where I was later naturalized), I was "fluent" in only one word in English (the word "no"), inappropriately clothed (with respect to the fashion of the time), and culturally inept. Thus, I was cast out by many of my classmates as an outsider at first. Through hard work and determination, I strove to excel academically and initiated extracurricular involvement as I began to overcome the language barrier. With time, I believe my classmates also learned a lot about me and my previous country's culture.
Based on my experiences, I realized that the most effective way to rid oneself of ignorance of other nations (and to learn from them) is via complete immersion in the foreign culture. This is why I am so excited about the Fulbright program's general premise. How else can we gain each other's trust to the extent that we can collaborate on ideas and projects that will shape our future?
My experiences have left me with as many questions as answers. I now wonder which traits are innate to humans and which are cultural. For example, while a kiss signifies love in one country, it can serve as the equivalent of a handshake in another. Winking is considered rather impolite in some non-Western cultures. If such seemingly innate nonverbal forms of communication are interpreted differently, then certainly there must be many other differences that we can learn about.
As an individual who has seen two very different cultural worlds, I feel that I am in a position to better understand such cultural issues. It will be especially interesting for me to explore Canada, where I can see a culture that is not as different from America as that of my native land. Even though it has fewer cultural differences vis-a-vis the United States than more distant countries do, I have already witnessed several of them firsthand on a couple of trips to Canada, including a visit to the University of Toronto. It will be interesting to see how American and Canadian cultures retained some characteristics and yet differentiated in others as they split from their original British roots.
Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 12 I think that a Fulbright experience will help me as I look toward the future. My career goal is to apply computer and engineering methods to biology (specifically biochemistry), in order to facilitate the design of better drugs. I would also like to encourage governments to provide cooperative research funding opportunities for drug design efforts. Such opportunities would divide the cost of researching new drugs among North American companies and the government and involve North American academic institutions in the research process. Working together across national and commercial/academia boundaries would be especially rewarding in this field. Drug research is expensive, yet people all over the world realize immense benefits from each new type of drug that becomes available, no matter what country it originates from. I hope that I can be a part of the process that improves the quality of life for citizens everywhere. For, while we may be different in how we communicate and in the traditions we cherish, surely we are all made of the same "stuff of life," as the late Carl Sagan once put it.
Essay Six My grandparents have touched many lives: former drug addicts, refugees, neighbors, and my own. They have an uncommon ability to build relationships; they are a paradigm of service—where service is more than what you do and is also defined by who you are.
In my own life, I have aspired to affect people in the manner of my grandparents and others in the Mennonite Church. I still have that aspiration, but my vision has expanded. Prior to attending Mythic College, I pictured myself living in Mythic County near my family and my roots. I grew up attached to the local way of life, working at my family's snack food business, raising crops to earn money, and leading the local Future Farmers of America. During high school, I read the international section of the paper but the people and events seemed a world away. At Mythic College, professors challenged me with realities such as the fate of 500 million people who are chronically malnourished. I began to ask myself, "Why will I have thirty food options at breakfast tomorrow while whole populations around the world will wake up with almost nothing to eat?" In the summer of 20xx, I traveled to Ecuador, equipped with rudimentary Spanish, a background in international politics and economics, and a desire to meet people, hear their stories, and learn from them. In Ecuador, the effects of a devastating financial crisis in 2000 still lingered. Many people had watched helplessly as banks froze savings accounts while the national currency plummeted, melting the life savings of many Ecuadorians.
Like helplessness, dependency often stems from a lack of opportunities. The children who begged on the streets of Quito depended upon strangers for money. If they were going to eat they had to beg.
Reflecting on such matters, as part of my studies I had asked myself, "What is the goal of development?" Through the plight I witnessed among Ecuadorians, I came to define development as building the productive and institutional capacities that give people opportunities to lead lives that they value.
After my travels, I returned to Mythic County in December of 20xx and ate Christmas dinner at my grandparents' farmhouse. I knew that this area was my home, and that my family was the source of my inspiration. I also knew that my passion for studying international development would take me away from Mythic County. But my grandparents had taught me to empathize and act. While aware of problems within Mythic County, I had seen much greater need in Latin America. Driven by the values instilled in me, I contacted Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) to work on a development project.
Ohio Wesleyan University Writing Center © 2011 Page 13 In June of 20xx, I traveled to Peru to assist with an innovative approach to agriculture lending pioneered by MEDA. While working for MEDA, I assessed a microcredit project involving rice farmers. The experience impressed upon me the value of a grassroots understanding as well as the importance of sound macro-level policies. Tariff rates, financial regulations, and public infrastructure plans could mean the difference between the project's success or failure. I left Peru convinced that sound trade and development policies could profoundly affect people's lives. Shaping macro-level policies became my goal.
With this goal in mind, I hope to pursue a law degree and a Master of Public Policy with an emphasis in international development. These degrees will give me the tools to craft and analyze development policy. I will use my experiences and education to hope to shape such policies in Latin America. Later, I plan to teach development studies at the university level.
Essay Seven My two defining passions are my loves of music and foreign languages. I began playing flute at age nine. I was fortunate to be talented enough to make it into several youth ensembles including the prestigious Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Music has taught me dedication and perseverance.
It has brought me together with people from all walks of life and helped me to develop an international perspective on life. I love music because it allows me to create a bit of beauty in the world. Wherever in the world I have been, my flute has come along, and it will accompany me to Poland if I receive a Fulbright grant.