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Atmore and Booth Awarded Watson Fellowship

MIRA BRANECK, Staff Writer

The Class of 2016 saw two Grinnellians, Chase Booth ’16 and Lane Atmore ’16, win the prestigious Watson Fellowship, which provides each student with 30,000 dollars to travel the world for a year. The fellow is not allowed to return to the United States during this year and is required by the program to pursue an area of academic interest in some way.

The application process was very intensive and competitive. In order to win the fellowship, applicants proposed themes to study for the full year as well as a detailed travel plan. After being narrowed down from around 20 Grinnell applicants, four Grinnellians were chosen and considered at the national level. Atmore and Booth were then selected from 150 other students. They are two of the 40 applicants that were ultimately awarded the fellowship.

Atmore, an Anthropology and Chinese major, is going to travel to various small islands to examine how being surrounded by water influences identity.

Atmore sees it as an “expanded version of place-based identity” — who you are is defined by where you grew up — but as Atmore sees it, the surrounding ocean contributes to that definition on islands.

Photo by Sofi Mendez  Lane Altmore ’16 and Chase Booth ’16 both received Watson Scholarships to fund year-long research projects.
Photo by Sofi Mendez
Lane Altmore ’16 and Chase Booth ’16 both received Watson Scholarships to fund year-long research projects.

The idea came to Atmore when she saw common identity themes between Madeline Island in Lake Superior, where she spent half of every year growing up, and the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, where she traveled.

“What I’ve noticed from being there, and other small islands around the world, is that there’s a coming thread that runs through these island places, even when they’re super far apart,” Atmore said.

“For me, the physical manifestation of this is the way that they make boats, and how these boats play a role in their culture,” Atmore said. “These boats are going to tell you their relationship to the water, which is going to tell you a lot about who they are as people. The common threads of their relationship to the water would be like the common identity between all these places.”

Atmore will record things people say, the sounds of the sea and the sounds of people harnessing the sea with their boats. She plans to incorporate art or photos into her presentation to help bring those who view it closer to her experience.

Atmore will be leaving the day after graduation to go to Guam (for which she had to get special permission, as it is a U.S. territory), where she will be attending the Pacific Arts Festival in which island nations come together to display their culture. She will have the opportunity to sail down the coast of Guam with a fleet of international handmade canoes.

She will then travel to Greenland, Greece, Micronesia and Thailand. Then she will fly to Moscow and from Moscow to Siberia. Atmore plans to end her year in Japan. After her year abroad, Atmore plans to move to New Zealand to work and travel for a year.

Booth, a Classics major, will be looking at mental health organizations in various communities. He plans to look specifically at institutions that have tailored their support in response to specific communal experiences of trauma. He is interested in looking at holistic approaches to mental health and group therapy settings.

Booth’s interest in mental health communities was born out of his participation in Grinnell Monologues, of which he is co-leader. He wanted to look at mental health communities that have models more similar to the Grinnell Monologues group, rather than instances of one-on-one therapy.

While Booth initially planned to do more one-on-one interviews with people that participate in these institutions, he now plans to examine entire institutions, rather than individual experiences.

“I’ll be working with the people who give support and who created the institutions,” he said.

“How does mental health manifest itself in everyday forms of living?” Booth proposed. “The way I wanted to approach that [question] was through organizations that offer support, and hopefully with working with these organizations I can see what they lack and how that’s made up by the community writ large and how they interact with those institutions.”

Booth will be travelling to Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Greece and potentially Rwanda. He plans to eventually go to law school and would like to do something that intersects law and mental health policy.

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