2021 Fischlowitz Travel Fellow to Explore Black Women’s Experiences

April 01, 2021

Diana Chege ’22, an English major from Nairobi, Kenya, was awarded the Fischlowitz Travel Fellowship for 2021. She plans to visit New York, Washington, D.C., Texas, and California in August to explore the experience of Black women in the United States.

“I would like to sit in their kitchens, helping out whenever needed, as they share what being Black and a woman in America means to them,” Chege says. Her plans include COVID-19 safety precautions.

The fellowship provides an opportunity for Grinnell international students to pursue casual yet purposeful independent travel in the United States, focused on deep exploration of a chosen theme.

Inspiration for Chege’s theme came in part from her mother. “I have always admired the way my mother used the space as her creative lab with new recipes and a site for learning history through her stories about my family and our people,” she says.
Several of Chege’s courses at Grinnell also inspired the theme, including Traditions of African American Literature, Literary Practices by Black Women, and Jazz Traditions. Participating in student organizations such as African and Caribbean Students Union and Black Faith have informed her understanding of the Black experience.

Her study of critical race theory taught her to “make space for and privilege experiential knowledge,” she says. “I would like to make space for and privilege Black stories by women in America.”

Each year, one award of $5,400 is provided to an international student through the generous support of Teresa and Merle Fischlowitz ’53. Fischlowitz remembers his friendships with students from abroad as one of the most rewarding aspects of his time at Grinnell. He believes traveling independently in the United States has the power to enrich an international student’s education beyond what can be accomplished by living for a few years in any single community. This award was established to provide opportunities for meaningful travel to students who might not otherwise be able to pursue it during their time at Grinnell.


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