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In Great Britain, surrounded daily by the English language, thousands of people speak Welsh instead of the country's dominant language.
Emily Setina '00
Emily Setina '99
Emily Setina, a Davidson senior from Dallas, Tex., will spend the next year studying how and why the Welsh and two other isolated pockets of indigenous people in Europe maintain their ancient languages.

Her travels and study will be funded by a $22,000 grant from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, which recently named Setina as one of its 60 Watson Fellows for 1999. More than 1,000 students applied to the first round of the selection, describing their ideal "wanderjarh" outside of the United States.

Setina based her Watson proposal on her love of poetry, photography and previous travels to Europe.
Tinturn Abbey
She made her first trip to Wales during the summer of 1997, while studying at Cambridge University in England on a Davidson study abroad program. She received a grant from Davidson's Dean Rusk Program in International Studies to return last summer for a closer look at Welsh culture. She spent five weeks at that time studying Welsh language and poetry by taking language classes and traveling independently to visit Welsh poets and an old family friend.

She became fascinated with the tenacity of the culture, and when she returned decided to apply for the highly competitive Watson Fellowship.
She explained, "The people who still speak Welsh are a minority and do so intentionally. They show an amazing tenacity to hold onto their language in the face of a vastly dominant language."

In addition to her time in Wales, Setina will spend time studying poetry in two other Celtic languages: Breton in the Brittany region of northern France and Gaelic in Ireland. In Ireland she will work through the Poet's House, a center for the study of Gaelic poetry.

An avid photographer, she will also document the minority populations and their natural environments. She said, "It's interesting that all three are coastal cultures. I think that landscape may influence language, the way things are named."

Her photographs and poems she plans to write will give her a means of sharing her year with others.
Kidwelly Castle
"My photographs and my poetry will give me two different ways of representing the experience and bringing it back to share with others," she explained.

Setina, an outstanding scholar majoring in English, is writing an honors thesis on the influence of photography on American modernist poet Marianne Moore, who was a fervent admirer and friend of noted photographers like Richard Avedon and Alfred Steiglitz.

At Davidson, Setina was awarded the Alumni Association Award for highest grade point average in her freshman year. She is also a member of the Honor Council, Reach Out service organization, and is a Senior Admission Fellow.

Founded in 1968, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program gives exceptional college graduates the opportunity to participate in a year of independent study and travel abroad.
It was founded by the children of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife, Jeannette K. Watson, to honor their parents' longstanding interest in education and world affairs. The foundation selects fellows based on each nominee's character, academic record, leadership potential, willingness to delve into another culture, and the personal significance of the proposed project. Since the foundation's inception, it has granted nearly 2,000 Watson Fellowship awards with stipends totaling approximately $22,000,000.

Davidson College is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,750 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 22 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by "U.S. News and World Report" magazine.

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