Janaya Crevier '16
More about Janaya
- Hometown: Chicago
- Semester in Vienna
- German department activities
Beginning in September, I will be living in Vienna, Austria doing research on a Fulbright community-based grant. Unlike many Fulbright grants that entail doing research with a university, this particular type of grant requires me to work with a community organization. My project will involve getting to know five or six refugee families and mapping their journey to Vienna in an online mapping application called Story Map Journal.* This application will be published as an interactive work of educational, geographic journalism on the website of a Biber, a magazine by and for people of migrant backgrounds in Vienna.
As this is my third time going to Vienna, I look forward to furthering the relationships that sprouted during my semester abroad in 2014. But the climate there has changed immensely: murmurs of xenophobia and far-right politics that I heard in 2014 have now increased to loud, anti-immigrant shouts. Even since the time I was accepted as a Fulbright grantee, Austria has elected a neo-Nazi president and has begun imposing what UN officials have dubbed “inhumane” laws against newcomers trying to build a new life in Austria. Thus, the urgency of extending welcome has only increased, and I stand amazed at how the timing of this project is coinciding with current events.
I must also say that this opportunity would have been impossible without the persistent support of my professors in the Geography and German departments. The Geography department helped me develop a passion for spatial visualization and map creation, especially through projects in GIS with Dr. Jason VanHorn, who was particularly instrumental in the Fulbright application process.
As for the German department, it is not an exaggeration to say that had it not been for them, I never would have considered applying for such a thing. Dr. Roberts, who is currently in Berlin on a Fulbright grant, consistently informed my German cultural competence through courses in film and literature. My advisor, Dr. Buteyn, taught my first German class and invited me to my first study abroad trip: the German Interim Abroad. Dr. Dykstra-Pruim’s excellent language and grammar training taught me not just how to write in German, but how to write well. Dr. Carvill’s “Outside Voices in German Literature” course opened my eyes to the rich work of authors who are for one reason or another (race, ethnicity, gender, citizenship status, etc.) classified by the German majority as “other” or “outsider.”
So, a thousand thank-yous to each of them and to all others who encouraged me in incredible ways in this process. Moving forward, I am both excited and overwhelmed in anticipation of what the next year might bring.
*(One example of a Grand Rapids-based Story Map is the “Story of the Plaster Creek Watershed,” created by Annaka Scheeres and Charlotte Reynolds in 2015.)
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