13 sophomores receive Dale Summer Award
From Indian cooking to Brazilian martial arts, 13 sophomores will embark on unorthodox creative projects of their own devising as recipients of the Martin A. Dale ’53 Summer Awards.
This year’s winners are Kubrat Danailov ’15, Brett Diehl ’15, Brianna Gilbert ’15, Ben Goldman ’15, Katherine Horvath ’15, Lekha Kanchinadam ’15, Isabelle Laurenzi ’15, Claire Nuchtern ’15, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen ’15, Cody O’Neil ’15, Bina Peltz ’15, Hawa Sako ’15 and Aleksandra Taranov ’15. The award provides students with a $4,000 stipend to pursue independent projects in a field of personal interest that they might otherwise be unable to explore. Students were selected on the basis of their project’s content and the value it held for them personally.
Kanchinadam is a former staff writer for the News, Street and Intersections departments of The Daily Princetonian.
Inspired by her relationship with her autistic brother, Nuchtern will drive across the country to interview siblings of people with special needs so she can better understand how these siblings’ identities are shaped by their relationships with disabled sisters and brothers.
As part of her “Sib’s Journey” project, Nuchtern will also communicate with nonprofits to determine ways to improve support services for the siblings of those with special needs. In addition, she plans to maintain a blog where she will post videos of her interviews with project participants.
Nuchtern said that she applied for the Dale because the award’s requirement to carry out a creative project that one might never have the chance to otherwise pursue appealed to her desire to ponder her relationship with her brother.
“For me, the relationship I have with my brother is very complicated and very much has evolved over the years, but it’s something that I don’t think I have as of yet spent enough time really thinking about and really kind of reflecting on, and yet it’s something that’s had a huge impact on who I am,” she said. “And so I think just the idea of having a whole summer to kind of get all of these new perspectives on this thing that’s a huge part of my life, and also meet so many people and hear their stories, is really exciting for me.”
Peltz’s project, “Transforming Trauma: Legacies of Love and Loss,” was also inspired by a family member. She will trace the journey of her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, from Poland to Israel. Born in Poland, Peltz’s grandmother lived in the Warsaw Ghetto, was imprisoned at Auschwitz and moved to Germany and Italy before settling in Palestine. While Peltz has never been to any of these European countries, she said she became interested in retracing her grandmother’s steps after spending her gap year in Israel.
“This has been a big part of my family’s narrative and something that has always been a big part of my life,” Peltz said. “But I wasn’t very conscious of it because, in a sense, it’s your grandmother and your grandparents are just like ordinary people, but it’s a very unordinary story.”
Peltz will be in contact with her grandmother throughout her trip before reuniting with her at her final destination in Israel. Peltz said she plans to write a creative nonfiction piece about her experience.
Gilbert will use the award to cross a few more of the “Seven Wonders of the World” off her personal bucket list. She will travel to South America to visit the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and hike the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. An experienced hiker, Gilbert will also explore hiking and running trails in the vicinity.
Gilbert explained that she has long wanted to visit all of the world’s seven wonders and that the award gives her the chance to do this. She has already visited Chichen Itza in Mexico and the Colosseum in Rome.
“I’ve had these dreams for so long. And I don’t know, you just kind of get trapped in the academia, and I wanted to step outside of that for a while and see the world as it is in different cultures,” Gilbert explained. “I’m so thankful I got it. When I got the news I just pretty much cried with joy; I was so, so pumped to do something this great with my summer.”
Laurenzi will spend eight weeks in London this summer visiting independent bookstores as well as writing short stories and keeping a blog as part of her Dale award.
“Generally speaking, I’m hoping to use the places I go to and the people I meet as inspiration [for the stories],” Laurenzi said. “My goal is to have three written and completed by the end of the summer.”
Her experience will be based on the London Bookshop Map, a map that details the location of 105 independent bookshops in London. She hopes to visit as many bookshops as she can and write about them, allowing her to make her own guide.
Sako will explore “Brazilian Culture Through the Lens of Capoeira.” Sako’s inspiration came from a presentation for her Portuguese class on the Brazilian martial art form, which was developed by slaves but is now practiced throughout the nation and worldwide.
Sako will spend the summer taking capoeira classes in Rio de Janeiro and interview her fellow classmates and teachers. She will speak to capoeira dancers from different demographics and share their experiences. In addition, Sako said she plans to spend a week or two in Salvador, the birthplace of capoeira.
Horvath will use the award to continue her training in silverwork, a pursuit she began during the University’s Bridge Year Program. This summer she will become an apprentice to a silversmith in Varanasi, India who began teaching her the craft of silver jewelry during her Bridge Year experience.
Through the project, “Master Silver Work: Apprenticeship With Professional Jeweler,” Horvath will gain further experience in the full process of hands-on jewelry making, including all the steps of melting and molding pure silver. “It’s all done right there in the workshop, which is something that you don’t really see in a lot of crafts nowadays, especially in the United States,” Horvath said.
She added that she hopes to gain enough skills to turn silverwork into a lifelong pursuit.
Kanchinadam will also spend her summer in India, learning about local cooking in a project titled “Learning My Family’s Culinary Tradition.” Kanchinadam, who has Indian parents, said she will visit her grandmother in Hyderabad and record her traditional recipes.
“My family has a really unique culinary history that I realize I wouldn’t be a part of if I don’t learn how to cook,” she explained.
Nussbaum Cohen will use his grant to study operatic singing under some of the art form’s top artists and musical experts this summer. After spending two to five weeks in a structured opera-intensive summer program in Canada or the United States, Nussbaum Cohen will travel to New York to train with prominent fellow countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo ’04, who met him on a visit to the University last fall. Through Costanzo, he will also be introduced to other singers and musical experts from institutions like Juilliard and the Metropolitan Opera.
Nussbaum Cohen said he decided to apply for the Dale because his voice teachers had long told him that he needed to break into the opera world by participating in intensive summer opera programs if he intended to pursue opera professionally.
“I haven’t been able to do, to go to these programs in the past because of financial constraints,” he said. “This will offer me the opportunity to take my study of opera and my pursuit of this passion to the next level. I’m very excited.”
Diehl, Goldman and O’Neil could not be reached for comment. Taranov could not be reached for comment by press time. Danailov was unavailable to be interviewed.
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