Five Brace Fellows Chosen for Next Year

The newly selected 2011 Brace Center Fellows will research gender-based topics ranging from HIV/AIDS in South Africa to domestic helpers in Hong Kong this summer. The Brace Center committee chose this year’s five fellows, Midori Ishizuka ’11, Kerry Lanzo ’11, Seyoung Lee ’12, Diego Mendia ’11 and Yerin Pak ’11. Each student will conduct their research over the summer and present it to the Andover community during the 2010-2011 academic school year. Lee plans to investigate foreign domestic helpers working in Hong Kong, where she lives. Lee explained that a foreign domestic helper is a woman living in a foreign country working to help others with domestic duties, such as cooking and cleaning. “[These women] are often forced to live in rooms that are 5 feet by 5 feet, and some are forced to sleep on the kitchen floor,” Lee added. Lee said that these women work non-stop and are paid only 450 American dollars per week. Lee said that the primary motive for becoming a helper in a foreign country is to send money back home, often to the Philippines, Indonesia or Thailand. “I want to find the different aspects of what it means to work for one of these families,” she said. Lee primarily plans to conduct interviews with these domestic helpers on Sundays—a day that most of the helpers are given off from work. Lee plans on filming all of her interviews in order to create a documentary about the women in order to educate the Andover community about the pros and cons of being a foreign domestic helper. Mendia will travel to Cuenca, Ecuador in order to study women in the workplace. “I want to see how women in the workplace have changed the cultural and social view of a women’s role,” he said. Mendia intends to conduct interviews with women in both professional workplaces and traditional Ecuadorian markets. Mendia said, “I also want to walk around and make my own observations about women in the workplace.” “Women make up the majority of jobs in the workplace because many of the men are going off to work in the contracting business,” he continued. Mendia explained that the goal of his research is to gain a deeper understanding of the stigma that women have in the workplace, to test the validity of this stigma and to observe what jobs women take versus what jobs men take. He also plans on researching and finding trends throughout history of different types of workers working together in different places. Pak will examine the lives of Korean women and how they are forced to choose between pursuing corporate careers or becoming a housewife. Pak said that she plans to use books as well as Korean and English newspaper articles to conduct her research. According to Pak, major American news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are covering her topic. Pak also plans on conducting interviews with Korean housewives and Korean businesswomen for her research. “I want to ask them why they chose one [life path] or the other, and why they think this phenomenon is occurring in Korea,” said Pak. Pak plans on producing both a paper and a presentation reporting her findings, and will share her research with the Andover community sometime next year. Ishizuka plans on studying the effects rape myths have on a community. She explained that there are many misconceptions surrounding the subject of rape on college and high school campuses. Ishizuka said that many experts in the field have distributed their own surveys about rape to a variety of people and examined the results. She said, “What has been found is that the more people accept these misconceptions about rape, the more people begin to condone it.” Initially, Ishizaka planned on creating a survey of her own, however, upon the recommendation of her advisor, decided to conduct research about rape myths to help develop the curriculum for PACE class and other gender study classes. “I wanted to contribute to the curriculum and make an impact here on campus,” she added. “I hope that [my research] will make an impact and will contribute to spreading sexual violence awareness because educating yourself is the first step.” Ishizuka explained that she will mainly research via articles and books found in the library. She said that she plans on writing a thorough paper on the topic, and will make an oral presentation to the Andover community sometime next year. Lanzo plans on investigating the sexual vulnerability of women in South Africa. She said, “I’m looking for the deeply set vein of gender discrimination in traditional South African culture that provides for such rampant sexual violence.” By finding this vein, Lanzo plans on explaining why HIV/AIDS is such an issue for women. “Without recognizing basic human rights of freedom from violence and rights to healthcare, the world cannot hope to move towards any sort of equality,” she continued. Lanzo said that South Africa has a very free media, and plans on using a variety of the available articles and reports for her research. “I’m looking for laws that have been passed already and investigate the current healthcare programs and what the South African government has done already,” she continued.