Chelsi West Awarded Fulbright Fellowship
On her first trip to Albania two years ago recent Millsaps College graduate Chelsi West saw Eastern Europe as very different from her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. The food, architecture, and language were all new to her. Except for the familiar sound of hip-hop music.
"I expected Albania to be so different from home and I found it was very different in some aspects but I also found some similar things." West said. "Albanian hip hop is very naturalistic and all about pride in the country and Albanian ethnicity."
West based her honors thesis on hip-hop music in Albania and Tanzania incorporating ideas of globalization, cultural transfer, performance theories and identity formation.
Her research and writing, combined with excellent scholarship, is part of why the she has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Albania for the 2008-2009 school year.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the Department of State, is the United States' flagship international exchange program. The purpose of the program is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U. S. and those around the world. Fulbright recipients are graduating seniors, masters and doctoral degree candidates.
West will live in the capital city of Tirana where she will take classes in social science at the University of New York, Tirana.
"It's absolutely gorgeous," West said of Albania. "I've never seen a more beautiful place."
West first became interested in studying other cultures when taking an Introduction to Anthropology course at Millsaps. The summer after her sophomore year she signed up to work with Millsaps associate professor of anthropology Dr. Michael Galaty on the Shala Valley Project in the northern Albanian high mountains. The international project, which Galaty directs, was designed to study the remote valley's cultural resources and the impacts of cultural isolation.
Since her first trip West, a 2008 honors graduate in sociology-anthropology with a minor in Faith & Work, has traveled to Albania again and Tanzania with Millsaps College.
"This is a great honor for Chelsi. There are only two spots available each year for Albania, and she will occupy one," Galaty said. "Of course, she fully deserves this opportunity. She will make a wonderful representative of our city, state and country."