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Pomona College Announces 11 Winners of Avery China Adventure Program Grants

Eleven members of the Pomona College community – a mix of students, alumni and faculty – have been awarded R. Stanton Avery China Adventure Program grants, which will allow them up to $25,000 each for up to one-year’s travel in China to research an area of interest.

“The Avery China Adventure Program provides a great opportunity to pursue creative projects in China and develop close contacts with Chinese people,” said Pomona College Professor Allan Barr, the college’s advisor for the Avery grant. “Over the years, with the help of these grants, Pomona students, alumni, faculty and staff have been able to get off the beaten track and do a lot of unusual things in China, making personal discoveries that have had a real impact on their lives.”

Daniel Bernstein of San Jose, Calif., class of 1997, will spend three months in China examining how the independent documentary film industry is growing, changing and evolving. He plans to spend the first six weeks in Beijing meeting with filmmakers and the second six weeks in Yunnan Province working at a recently established documentary institute. His aim is to answer the following question: how have the changes that China has undergone affected filmmakers' abilities to bring their documentary visions to fruition? Bernstein hopes to come back from China with both a better understanding of the relationship between documentaries and societal change, as well as some nice footage. Bernstein is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins pursuing a master’s degree in international economics, Japan studies and environmental policy. Documentary filmmaking is a hobby.

Charles Deck of Brooklyn, New York, class of 2003, plans to go to China to have a “conversation in folk music.” With the jazz training and Chinese skills he acquired at Pomona, Deck will share his knowledge of jazz while also learning something about Chinese folk music. He says there's a growing interest in the nascent jazz scene in China, and he’s hoping to provide access to jazz and learn about Chinese music to facilitate intersections and collaborations between the two musical forms. Deck plans to backpack in Eastern China for one year, visiting schools, music academies, parks and any other place where people are willing to learn about or share music. Deck is a financial analyst and saxophone player who is considering going to graduate school and sees the Avery grant as an opportunity to break out of his normal life and explore China, music and himself.

Mark Wolfmeyer of Brookside, New Jersey, class of 2002, will travel to China for one month to hear live performances of underground art-rock music in Beijing, and to involve himself in that musical community. Wolfmeyer is a musician who hopes to learn why the Chinese underground art-rock community is thriving and inspirational. He also hopes to experience Chinese folk music and consider the possibility that the Beijing scene is an outgrowth of traditional folk music.
Wolfmeyer is a high-school math teacher in New Jersey.

Professor of Biology and Molecular Biology Laura Hoopes will examine the interaction between cranes and people in China. She plans to visit two major nature reserves, one near Harbin in the North and the other near JiuJiang in the South, that preserve cranes, as well as other animals and plants. Both of the reserves house many other human activities (farming, fishing, reed cutting), and she plans to talk with people to find out if they see the cranes as valuable and interesting or as competitors and problems. She also will bring drawings from American schools to exchange for drawings of cranes made by Chinese schoolchildren near the reserves. In addition, she plans to compare the aftermath of a major fire at one reserve in 2001 with the fire in Claremont this past year. Hoopes’ goal is to find out how conservation impacts people’s lives and how well it is working in China. After her trip, she plans to return to Pomona College and incorporate some of her findings in lessons and talks.

Additional Avery Grant from Pomona College recipients are:

Paul Kiernan of Bethesda, Maryland, class of 2004, an avid climber who will trek into the mountains of Hengduan Shan.

Drew Foerster of Columbia, Maryland, class of 2004, will research the myths that animate 14 of China’s sacred Buddhist and Daoist mountains, to which millions of Chinese make annual pilgrimages.

Steve Miller of Riverside, Calif., class of 1998, a foreign-student advisor at UC Riverside who will search for the symbolic meanings behind the Chinese could art motif – a pervasive image in Chinese art forms that transcends China’s many ethnic and religious divisions.

Megan Purn of Seattle, Wash., class of 2000, a writer who will explore book arts, seeking out people – artists, traditional bookmakers and minority priests – who make books.

Beatrice Schraa of New York City, class of 2006, will study the different forms of embroidery still practiced as a traditional art in China.

Physical Education Instructor (martial arts) Ty Aponte will visit orphanages and interview families to learn how the foster-care system established in China in 2002 is working and how it compares to the traditional orphanages in terms of care given to the children.

Music Instructor Phillip Young will retrace his mother's WWII-era refugee journey into Guangdong, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces.

The R. Stanton Avery China Adventure Program is open to students, faculty, staff and graduates within the past seven years of the Claremont Colleges, California Institute of the Arts, Caltech and Occidental College with an interest in learning more about a particular aspect of China. Projects can be from three weeks to one year in length with a budget up to $25,000, and can focus on almost anything related to mainland China. Grants are not limited by academic background or achievement, or language requirements.

The seed for the Avery Foundation Grant was planted in 1929, when 10 Pomona College students – including R. Stanton Avery – pooled their talents to create the Oriental Study Expedition. Each had a particular area of interest and scraped together sufficient funds to spend one year traveling throughout China. The experience left a lasting impression on them all.

Avery, who later built the multinational company now known as Avery-Dennison, created the Avery China Adventure Program to recognize the adventurous spirit of his original China expedition. Administered by the International Community Foundation, the program continues his legacy by offering opportunity for China travel to individual aspiring explorers.

Pomona College is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offering a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.