Molly Krifka ’13 has been awarded a 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to support an English Teaching Assistantship in Peru. In addition to focusing on teaching English, she will use the opportunity to continue work started while she was in Peru as a recipient of the Salisbury Summer International Internship Stipend.
“I’m excited to have received a Fulbright Award. I respect the heritage behind Fulbright -the idea of a community of individuals who are passionate about involving themselves in different cultures,” says Krifka. “It really fits my personal philosophy that to truly understand one’s own culture you need to step outside of it. That, and the opportunity to represent my country in another country that I care about so much makes this such an exciting experience.”
An ethnomusicology and Spanish and Hispanic studies double major, Krifka spent the summer of 2012 in Peru as an intern at El Instituto Taki, a museum and cultural outreach center in Cusco. She was responsible for producing a museographical guide that detailed the entire museum’s collection. She also participated in the sikuri panpipe ensemble associated with Taki, rehearsing with them every week. Krifka also traveled to various locales in order to record, collect and catalogue firsthand ethnographic information about contemporary indigenous instruments that Taki recently acquired.
“I specifically chose to apply to the Fulbright program to teach, rather than strictly conduct research, because I love to teach English. I enjoy finding unique and interesting ways to explain a grammatical concept, ease the environment of learning a new language and make it fun,” says Krifka.
She will also use her time to continue her study of the Quechua language and the connection between gender, music, language and activism. Song is often used as a medium for expression, for example through workshops and other very local initiatives. Krifka is interested in studying this “on the ground activism.”
She has not yet been notified where she will be placed in Peru so may or may not return to Cusco.
“I have a lot of ties, both informants and friends, in Cusco and have started to involve myself in the music community there so it would be nice to return,” she explains. “At the same time, I’m excited about the possibility that I will be in another urban center.”
She participated in the Colleges’ semester in Ecuador in 2010 and applied for and received a Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship to further immerse herself in the study of music there. Krifka then spent six weeks in Peru in the spring of 2011 prior to returning as a Salisbury Scholar.
“I felt something awaken in me in Peru in terms of the music and the Quechua language,” says Krifka, who is currently completing her Honors project on music and gender roles in Peru. For her research, she interviewed women who play instruments traditionally meant for men. Krifka also learned to play one of the instruments typically reserved for men in the culture.
Her love for Spanish and Hispanic language and culture formed when, as a senior in high school, she participated in two service trips to Nicaragua through a sister-city community service delegation. It was there she completed her first ethnography study.
“I fell in love with the idea of applied anthropology in the scope of activism. That spring granted me the ability to share one woman’s story, and the hope that in the future I could work with and share the stories of many women otherwise unheard in Latin American machista cultural context,” explains Krifka.
On campus, Krifka is a lead teaching fellow, Spanish tutor and mentor for the Center for Teaching and Learning. She has served as a research assistant for Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies May Farnsworth and as a teaching assistant for the Spanish department. She is a member of the Colleges Chorale and a former member of the HWS Ultimate Frisbee team. She is a member of Hai Timiai and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Krifka has also volunteered as an America Reads tutor. A third-generation HWS student, Krifka’s mother is Kathy E. Ford ’80 and her grandfather is Robert E. Ford ’54, GP’13. Her uncle, Theodore Ford ’66, also attended Hobart.
She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either ethnomusicology or visual anthropology, with a focus in music.
In her Fulbright Award application, Krifka wrote, “I also envision a life commuting often between the United States and the Andes region (Bolivia, Peru or Ecuador) to not only continue my own research, but also to help advocate with indigenous communities potentially exploited by a globalizing market economy.”