Mike Scanlin (Founder)
The Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund is now in its ninth year and the current trio of recipients studying in Senegal, Egypt and Italy brings the total number of UC San Diego students benefiting from your generous contributions to 22. Their destinations for international study have included universities in China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Scotland, Senegal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Our three students are among what the New York Times reports are some 191,000 American students studying abroad this year. We are pleased to be able to help create opportunities for young people to experience cultural differences first hand and to view U.S. society from an international perspective – these scholarships provide just such opportunities while also honoring the memory of Chris’ lifelong engagement with the international scene.
Jenna Carlsson, a third year student in Sociology with a minor in African Studies who was fluent in French and eager to immerse herself in a completely different culture, chose to study at the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal in a program administered by the University of Wisconsin. Jenna anticipated that a year in Senegal would help her to gain communication skills (in both French and Wolof), patience and a more worldly perspective. Before departing for orientation in Dakar in October, Jenna visited Davis on two occasions. We had a wonderful time getting acquainted and exchanging thoughts. This is one of the first observations she shared after arrival in Africa: “White Americans who believe race doesn’t matter should put themselves in a situation where 99% of the people around them are black. I would predict they would feel much more uncomfortable and different than they think they would. Yes, race does matter.”
Tamami Komatsu is spending her third year as a pre-med International Studies major studying Literature and Italian Studies at the University of Bologna. In accepting the scholarship, she wrote: “Thank you so very much for assisting me in my efforts to become a world citizen – I only wish I could express how much I really appreciate this act of benevolence.” Tamami is very excited about developing an international perspective, independence and a foundation for her later humanitarian work. She has a deep concern for the health crisis in Africa and eventually hopes to work for Doctors Without Borders. After a few weeks of intensive language training in Rome, Tamami wrote: “I miss home a lot more than I thought I would and Italy is lot different than I expected. I love how much I’m already learning and I already feel different than when I came.”
Marilyn Shapley is a fourth year International Studies and Literature major with a secondary focus on political science. At the American University in Cairo she is able to study policies and literature of the Middle East in preparation for a regional specialization in her planned career as a Foreign Service officer in the U.S. State Department. When visiting with Marilyn last summer, we learned of her great interest in Egyptology, her concern about the current situation of Sudanese refugees, and her eagerness to learn how to communicate thoughtfully in an international setting. A few weeks later she was ecstatic about her first visit to see pyramids, starting to teach English to refugees, discussing the Egyptian election with local students and practicing colloquial Arabic in the marketplace. Some of Marilyn’s courses deal with developing durable peace and stability in war-torn countries, Third World Literature and forced migration and refugee studies. When trying out for the Cairo Model UN club, she had to role play as Saudi Arabia and with two minutes to prepare had to defend her country’s record of religious freedom. Marilyn’s comment: “It was valuable to walk away and realize that there are two sides to every story, and the truth is never as cut and dry as we think.”
Besides visiting with Jenna and Marilyn who live in Northern California, we also had a chance to meet with several other scholarship recipients. Early in the year we attended a reception in honor of the marriage of Yukio King (Germany 2000-01) and Anja King who came from Berlin for the occasion. Yukio met Anja when he was studying in Germany. In May we were guests of Shige Itoh (Japan, 2000-01) as he graduated from Boalt Law School in Berkeley. The elated graduate is pictured below. In June we celebrated Brian Israel’s (U.K., 2003-04) graduation from UCSD. In August we met Brian and Achim Lyon (China, 2004-05) at Chris’ favorite Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley, just days after Achim had returned from Beijing. A picture of Brian and Achim that night is on the following page. Ellen Holloway (Spain, 2001-02) was in Davis over the summer, but we only managed to run into each other in the grocery store.
Updates on other scholarship recipients: Jenny Chang (U.K., 1997-98) is continuing the research for her doctoral dissertation at the University of Washington; Mark Morris (Ghana, 1998-99) is launching a line of designer t-shirts from his home base in San Francisco; Julia Carter (Egypt, 2002-03) took a world trip after her graduation and has shared marvelous descriptions of all she saw and did; Marisol Gutiérrez (Mexico, 2003-04) graduated from UCSD; Alice Wagner (Scotland, 2004-05) and Henrick Shyu (Japan, 2004-05) returned last summer (unfortunately we couldn’t find a convenient time to get together) and are back at UCSD, Henrick in graduate school; Jonathan Wang (Japan, 2003-04) added Japanese Studies as a second major and will graduate next March, and Ben Winkler-McCue (Spain, 2001-02) built a house in Hawaii and now is a teaching assistant at UCSD.
A news story about the scholarship fund appeared in the Davis Enterprise this year. It can be viewed, along with other updates and previous letters, on the CBMSF web site. One of the responses to the article we received was a donation with the remark: “Wow! This is something I’d like to be a part of.”
We will close with what we thought were particularly touching words from former scholarship recipient Ben Winkler-McCue: “What you are doing through your scholarship program is quite admirable. The more one is able to travel and gain new perspectives, the more one is humbled. I only hope that some of us can affect the direction our country is going. Thanks for your continued support.”
We share those thanks with all of you who have made this project possible.