While many Bowdoin seniors are searching for jobs or preparing for graduate school, Josh Magno '11 is packing his suitcase. Magno was awarded a prestigious Watson Fellowship and will spend the next year traveling the world, spending time in at least five different countries completing his project "5, 6, 7, 8, Instep, Outreach: An Exploration of Dance as Community Service."
The Watson Fellowship is awarded annually to 40 undergraduates from a pool of 40 colleges and universities in the United States each year, taking into consideration "individuals of unusual promise." Those awarded the fellowship are required to spend one year outside of the United States pursuing a project of their own design.
Director of Student Fellowships and Research Cindy Stocks discussed Magno's unique project and the many reasons why he was awarded the $25,000 grant by the Watson Foundation.
"Josh has a demonstrable passion for both dance and community service," said Stock. "The project he proposed was this ideal melding of the two things he is really passionate about. What Josh was proposing to do, there was no other way to get it done, which makes it an ideal Watson project."
Magno's project brings together his commitment to community service and his love of dance, both stemming from his Bowdoin experience and beyond.
"I first wanted to do something with dance and pop culture and looking at how they varied throughout different countries," said Magno. "Then a friend showed me a video of a company in India that teaches dance to the blind. I remember thinking to myself, 'Why didn't I think of this before?'"
By joining dance companies in Argentina, the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, India and Uganda, Magno intends to explore how dance groups around the world incorporate community service projects into their performances and unique cultural styles.
"A part of me identifies with each of the companies," said Magno. "The ones that perform for awareness and education plucked a certain string inside me."
Magno also spoke about the potential his project has to impact others.
"There is just something about dance that when you watch, it shows what is relevant and important in a community or a society," he said. "To me, dance, especially put in the context of the Watson, just shows something that is important to you."
Stocks echoed this comment when she spoke about the influence Magno's project will have here in the Bowdoin community as well as abroad.
"I think that students seeing Josh going and doing these things puts fellowships on the radar screen and within reach of others," she said. "Who knows what Josh will experience and how he might bring that back to Bowdoin in the years to come."
"That's the exciting part of it, that untapped potential," Stocks added.