News & Events


April 28, 2016

Two IWRI student assistants selected for 2016 Bonderman Travel Fellowship

Since 1995, David Bonderman, a University of Washington graduate, has provided a travel fellowship opportunity to 236 UW students. In 2016, seven graduate and professional students and eight undergraduate students were selected from among over one hundred applicants. The selected students will receive $20,000 each to use for independent travels. Our two students will embark on a solo eight-month journey to a required minimum of six countries and at least two different regions of the world. Research or any academic study is prohibited during this adventure, and they are not allowed to travel with an organized group. This fellowship is designed to let students who have not had international travel experience to explore and see the world, other cultures and people.

Bonderman-JamesJames Her (Hmoob [Hmong]), a Master’s in Social Work candidate, has been with IWRI since July 2015 and has been working with the Creating Campus Change project. He plans to go to Costa Rica, Peru, Morocco, Tonga, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and China. As a child, he had the dream to hike and backpack through some of these places. These countries were chosen because of conversations he heard at work and school, and made him want to explore these places first hand. James is taking this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the world’s wonders and to live in the moment, while challenging himself to step outside of his comfort zone. He plans on packing simply and bringing a light backpack for this journey. Mr. Her will graduate with his MSW degree (mental health track) in June2016 and will depart for his adventure in August.

Bonderman-JackieJackie Johnson, member of the Makah Nation, is a Master’s in Communications: Native Voices candidate. Ms. Johnson has been with IWRI for over a year and has worked with the Creating Campus Change project, Native Youth Enrichment Program, and in IWRI’s Technology and Media Division. She plans on going to Mongolia, Greenland, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Japan, Nepal, Taiwan, and Russia. Ms. Johnson is passionate about indigenous storytelling practices, and has been intrigued how other indigenous people tell their stories—particularly through film. She plans on exploring these countries due to the unique histories each has with the residing indigenous people, which may be similar to the history of American Indians. Jackie is also interested to see how she, as an indigenous person, can immerse herself into these new lands and cultures. Jackie plans on bringing at least her camera and antidiarrheal medicine. Ms. Johnson plans on leaving in September 2016 after she graduates in June.

The Indigenous Wellness Research Institute is honored to have two of its students selected and placed with our other Bonderman Fellows: Stephanie Reidel, a 2015 Māhina trainee [a research training program run by IWRI], and Cynthia Pearson, IWRI’s Associate Director of Research.

Stephanie Reidel is in the last section of her journey and is currently bicycling through Vietnam. So far she has been to Chiapas (Mexico), Costa Rica, Peru, Chile, Thailand, and Indonesia. Stephanie started this journey to be “able to build new relationships and challenge [her] ideas about the world” and use the pillars of “respect, responsibility, reciprocity and accountability” as she explores each place.

Cynthia Pearson received the Bonderman Travel Fellowship in 2003 while she was working on her PhD in Health Sciences. Dr. Pearson spent about three months in Mozambique, Africa and says “It is essential to take the time to bulid relationships” before and during this type of journey. She offers the advice “to bring a good bar of soap,” to acknowledge that “you are so wealthy” in comparison to most people of the world, “remember you are a guest,” but also “to hang out and not to expect anything.”

Again, congratulations to James Her and Jackie Johnson. IWRI has known for a long time what the Bonderman Selection Committee found out. We are all excited for you and wish you safe and adventurous journeys!