What projects and new ideas are exciting you personally, academically, professionally?
At the moment, I’m studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa! It has been an absolutely incredible experience. In addition to taking courses on the history of apartheid, post-conflict reconciliation, and transitional justice law, I have also been interning for an organization called Lawyers for Human Rights, where I’ve been working on policy to combat hate crimes, xenophobic violence, and prison abuse in South Africa. This week, I’m writing a journalistic piece on some of the most severe cases of prison assault that have taken place in the last five years, the lack of response from the South African government, and why local people and the international community should care. Learning about the legacy of apartheid and how it has shaped the social and political challenges South Africa faces today has been fascinating (not to mention the many parallels that can be drawn between the challenges that exist here in South Africa and the ones we face in the U.S.).
Have you been keeping in touch with your Bezos Scholar Alumni, and if so — how?
I’m lucky enough to go to school with several Bezos Scholars! Pablo Haake and Leila Abdelrahman are both juniors with me at Stanford. With that said, if you know Pablo or Leila, you will understand why I don’t see very much of them! They’re absolute super stars and are each involved in a million different projects and activities on campus. Scheduling a lunch or dinner between the three of us is nearly impossible, but passing them on campus and catching up, if only for a few minutes, always brightens my day. Since I’ve been studying abroad for the past two academic quarters, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet the newest BSP addition(s) to Stanford, who I believe are freshmen now, but I am really looking forward to getting to know them when I return to campus in a few months! I also enjoy keeping up with other alumni from my year via Facebook.
Which influential books, albums, podcasts, or films would you personally recommend to the BSP community of curious minds?
I just finished reading Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, which was a finalist for the National Book Award last year, and one of my favorite books I’ve read in the last five years. Lee’s writing is absolutely beautiful! I would recommend it to anyone. As a young Asian-American woman, it also meant a great deal to me to read a novel centered around the voices and experiences of Asian women, which isn’t always easy to find! I’m now in the midst of re-reading Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, because I love it that much. If you haven’t read it yet, you should move it to the top of your book list!
Who or what are you finding inspiration in right now?
For the first time in years, I’ve started writing for myself again. After spending most of time in college writing research papers, I’m now exploring personal narrative and creative nonfiction, which has been incredibly empowering and fulfilling. Someone once told me that you write to find out what you believe. Since I began journaling and writing short stories over the last few months, I’ve felt a lot more clarity about my own emotions and experiences. Exchanging written work with my friends and family has also been really special for me…and a constant source of inspiration. It is amazing what you can learn about a person based on what they choose to write about and how they choose to write about it.
Anything else you want to share with the BSP community?
Although it has been an extraordinary experience living here in Cape Town, it has also been very ethically challenging for me, as an American student consuming local resources in the midst of the water crisis. If you aren’t familiar with the crisis, please take a moment to read one of the NY Times’ most recent pieces: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/30/world/africa/cape-town-day-zero.html. Sending love to you all!