Five Uppers Named 2012-2013 CAMD Scholars

Five Uppers will be spending their summers researching topics ranging from homophobia in American hip hop to xenophobia in South Africa. The Office of Community and Multicultural Development (CAMD) selected Andries Feder ’13, Sung Woo Hong ’13, Angela Leocata ’13, Laz Nyamakazi ’13 and Nikita Singareddy ’13 as CAMD Scholars for the 2012-2013 school year. The five were chosen from a pool of 18 applicants. Feder’s project, “Homophobia in Hip Hop: Past, Present and Future,” will trace the roots of the genre and examine the direction it is headed. Over winter break, Feder listened to a National Public Radio interview of hip-hop artist Brother Ali, a blind, white, albino, Muslim rapper, who discussed how ashamed he was for using homophobic slurs in his lyrics on his first album. In an e-mail to The Phillipian, Feder wrote, “[The interview] caught my attention because hip hop is not a genre which, at least from my perception, has ever helped the LGBTQ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer] community.” For his project, Feder plans to interview current hip-hop artists and has already gotten in touch with Brother Ali and Donald Glover, two rappers who support the LGBTQ community. Hong hopes to investigate conditions in North Korea’s political internment camps in his project, “North Korean Political Prisoner Camps: An Examination of Politics and Human Rights.” According to Hong, many detainees are subjected to harassment, forced labor and torture. To gain a firsthand perspective, Hong plans to interview former inmates who managed to escape across the border to South Korea. He said, “North Korea is politically unstable and has a bizarre regime, detaining tens of thousands of prisoners for even the pettiest offenses like listening to South Korean pop music.” Leocata, who grew up in a community of uniform socioeconomic status, had never really thought about class-based inequalities in education. She hopes to explore the issue in her project, “The Effect of Socioeconomic Class on the Educational Process.” “The process [of education] is different for many people,” said Leocata. “I’m basically going to analyze the challenges and endpoints of various students.” She said, “My hope is that this project will become something that every member of our community can relate to… I truly believe that [the consequence of socioeconomic advantage or disadvantage] is not spoken about enough, and I am excited to present it to the community in relation to education, something we all value.” In his project, “What Happened to the Rainbow Nation: Xenophobia in South Africa,” Nyamakazi will explore an issue close to home that has long puzzled him. Despite being dubbed the “Rainbow Nation” for its diversity and social tolerance, South Africa has seen increasing xenophobia towards immigrants from other African nations. This aversion has provoked riots, looting, arson and deadly attacks targeting immigrants, according to Nyamakazi. He said, “[South Africans] call ourselves a ‘Rainbow Nation.’ We accepted everyone and anyone after the fall of apartheid, but now we are attacking people who are different from us. I constantly ask myself, ‘Why are we doing this?’” Singareddy drew from her longstanding interest in human rights and modern-day slavery in choosing the topic of her project, “The Perversion of the American Dream: Deconstructing Media Portrayals of Immigrant Sex Workers Through Their Own Voices.” According to Singareddy, many television shows, such as TV series “Cathouse,” glorify the lives of sex workers. Her project will disprove these portrayals by examining real accounts of the struggles of immigrants sex workers in the United States. Throughout the spring and summer, the CAMD Scholars will work closely with their faculty advisors to plan and carry out their independent research before returning to campus next year. Their project will culminate in a paper and presentation to the Andover community. Aya Murata, Coordinator of the CAMD Scholar Program, said, “[The selection process] is a really difficult process because we wish that we could support every single [proposed project]. Obviously, the students are very passionate and have interesting lines of inquiry and diverse projects.” Established in 2007, the CAMD Scholar Program annually provides four or five students with the opportunity to pursue extracurricular research on issues of identity, community and culture.