James Deitrich ’14 and Subin Nepal ’15 have each spent a portion of their summer conducting research on campus with support of the Sills Family Endowed Fellowship, awarded through the office of the provost. The fellowship enabled the students to design their research around their specifics interests.
Nepal, an international relations major, conducted interviews with refugees from Bhutan, where in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, citizens experienced an ethnic cleansing instituted by the new king and were forced to leave their home land.
“I grew up in Nepal and I saw everything happen right in front of me,” he says. “This fellowship has given me an opportunity to approach people and talk to them about their experiences while actually being able to help and give resources to these refugees.”
Working under the tutelage of Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn, Nepal is focusing on shedding light on the injustices these refugees face, as opposed to what the media depicts.
He visited cities such as Syracuse and Rochester, each within an hour of the Colleges, to interview some of the 68,000 refugees located in the region for a documentary he is putting together that will showcase their lives and struggles.
“According to my research, not many people in the area are familiar with the realities these refugees face,” he explains. “My aim is to tell the world, as far as I can, that Bhutan is not the happiest place in the world and that there are still people suffering from the events that took place there.”
Deitrich saw the fellowship as an opportunity to combine his political science major and his minors in theatre and media and society to provide a rare perspective on how politics and acting are directly correlated.
“Looking at politics now, people can be so easily swayed by a good speech that they don’t need to know all the important details,” says Deitrich. “I think it’s important to understand why that speech can be so effective.”
Along with writing an extensive research paper, he will present his topic to the general public to help them gain a better understanding of the connection between the politician and the audience, as well as how acting and speech-delivery play a pivotal role in the effectiveness of a political speech.
“Political speeches are not completely natural,” he says. “The speeches are a crafted, detailed process where the politicians actually create a character to a certain extent. Hopefully, I can convince people to start looking at political speeches with a more critical eye.”
Deitrich appreciates the opportunities HWS provides for students to pursue their unique interests.
“The great thing about Hobart and William Smith is that it encourages people to find their true interests and find a connection between their specific interests and everyday life. I think that’s brilliant.”