Bethany Reynolds, of Timonium, Md., a senior at Washington and Lee University, has received a Fulbright research/study grant to China for her project "Acquiring an Education for Migrant Children in Zhejiang Province."
The idea behind Reynolds' Fulbright is two-fold. She will focus on the education of migrant workers' children, "I also hope to conduct exploratory research on immigrant identity.
"If I can find Spanish-speaking immigrants in my province, I hope to do fieldwork with them, tracking trends in transnationalism and the shifting paradigms of deterritorialization as it relates to the development of one's cultural identity, all novel fields in cultural anthropology," she said. "I have always [wanted] to connect my interests in the Spanish-speaking world and Mandarin-speaking world, so studying the immigrant population in China will enable me to finally bridge those interests."
Reynolds studied abroad through Middlebury University's language-immersion program in Hangzhou, China, where she conducted research on migrant workers and their children, alongside sociology Professor Wang Ping of Zhejiang University of Technology. She realized that she could dive even deeper into the issue with her Fulbright by visiting local schools and villages and districts of the city heavily populated by migrants, including Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou and Jinhua.
"Bethany is a student who has been doing liberal arts for the 21st century by applying her proficiency in languages of global significance (Chinese and Spanish) to her social science project abroad on migration between China and Latin America," said David Bello, associate professor of history.
"This burgeoning population of transitory and marginalized peoples is a critical social issue in China today," Reynolds continued in describing the idea and plans for her Fulbright grant. "Some statistics say 10-15 percent of China's population is of migrant status; so their issues of identity development, educational opportunity, assimilation into urban society and lack of welfare provisions (among others) are becoming increasingly relevant to China's future wellbeing.
Reynolds is an East Asian languages and literature major with a concentration in Chinese. She is a member of Phi Eta Sigma Freshman National Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, the W&L Singers and the Dean's List. She works for W&L's Tucker Multimedia Center in the language/humanities lab and is an advanced pianist.
She is the founder of Preparing for Tomorrow, a biannual series of discussion forums aimed at educating W&L about contemporary global issues. She presented a research paper to the Society for Applied Anthropology in March 2013 on her work at the NCSU Ethnographic Field School in Guatemala (summer 2012).
Post-Fulbright, she plans to enroll in an M.A./Ph.D. program for sociocultural anthropology, specializing in China, and then enter academia, consulting or NGO-work.
"Her Fulbright award has confirmed for me that, as the Chinese saying goes, '青出于蓝，而胜于蓝,' (the student has surpassed the teacher)," said Bello. "She's truly plugged into two of the right cultures during the right century."