Contributed by
NOAH SMITH
2011 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories

Scholar Spotlight: 2011 Scholar Noah Smith

What are you up to right now? What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically, professionally? 
I’m currently editing videos for an endangered language documentation project on Yoloxóchitl Mixtec—an indigenous Mexican language spoken by only 10,000 villagers in the municipality of San Luis Acatlán. Spearheaded by Jonathan Amith, the project documents and preserves the secular and ritual life of native speakers in the village of Yoloxóchitl. I also work as an assistant video editor of Finding Your Roots on PBS, hosted by Henry Louis Gates. I’m lucky enough to be able to combine my interest in American history with a passion for documentary filmmaking—Each episode is a deep-dive into the genealogy of celebrity guests, and a critical look at their family histories. I also freelance as both an editor and assistant editor, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you’ve got a big idea! 

Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar Alumni, and if so — how? 
I love keeping in touch with my fellow 2011 Bezos Scholars (as well as Scholars from other years)! Whether over Facetime, the Scholars app—or (if I’m lucky) multiplayer online trivia—I’m glad to be able to stay in touch with so many bright, engaging young thinkers. While Covid has temporarily put the kibosh on a physical reunion, I’m excited to see what new ways we find to connect, share, and learn about one another. 

Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds? 
I keep going back to The Great Transformation (1944) by Karl Polanyi. One of my favorite teachers told me, “read it twice and you’ll have a friend for life.” Polanyi’s incredibly rich study of embedded markets draws equally from analyses of history, political economy, and anthropology—I really think there’s something in there for everybody! 

I’d also like to recommend anything by Baltimore poet/author Kondwani Fidel, author of Hummingbirds in the Trenches (2018) and The Anti-Racist: How to Start the Conversation and Take Action (2020). If documentaries are more your speed, try to catch Honeyland (2019). It’s a gorgeous, lyrical portrait of a rural Macedonian beekeeper whose trade is threatened by a neighbor’s exploitation of the area’s natural resources.  

Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now? 
The most inspiring thing to me now is the tireless work of BIPOC and queer organizers around the country. It’s incredibly heartening to see the proliferation of mutual aid networks, community bail funds, food drives, and other routes for direct financial relief. Amidst a rampant global pandemic, widening inequality, an ongoing atmosphere of police violence and community displacement, these organizers are making substantial, meaningful change. It’s up to everyone else to follow their lead and contribute in any way we can. 

Anything else you want to share with the BSP community? 
Redistribute! Find the local organizations/individuals in need of resources around you and contribute however you can: time, money, supplies, whatever is needed!

Contributed by
NOAH SMITH
2011 Bezos Scholar
Categories
Student Stories