Emily VanGorder – Staff Writer
This year, Gustavus’ annual Celebration of Creative Inquiry will be held virtually from 4 to 6 p.m on April 30. Using a Google Meets link provided on April 30, anyone interested in learning more will be able to drop into various groups to learn more about their research and ask questions.
Students from all academic disciplines led research into a variety of topics, including COVID-19 data, TikTok algorithms, and the importance of discussing race in high school biology classes.
Fellow Gustavian Weekly staff and Seniors Kyra Bowar and Emma Lohman researched the ethnography of the Gustavus Dance Company for their intercultural communication class.
“We decided to choose the Gustavus Dance Company because neither of us knew much about dance, but we found it really fascinating because they really do have a culture and language that’s unique to them,” Bowar said.
Throughout the semester, Bowar and Lohman observed six dance rehearsals and performances, taking detailed notes and conducting interviews with members of the company.
“In ethnographic research (the study of culture), it’s really important for research to be immersive to get a comprehensive look into the subculture. Our faculty sponsor, Patricia English, was really helpful and supportive throughout the entire process, offering feedback and encouragement. Without her support, we wouldn’t have pushed ourselves to find such a fun and challenging group to observe,” Bowar said.
Senior Nicole Cundiff and Professor So Young Park received the Presidential Grant to do research over the summer about art and the literature of George Gissing, a Victorian author.
“Professor Park had had this idea for a while… It was really interesting to learn how much nuance you can put into art. There were a lot of historical aspects I researched for this project that were also very interesting. I know a lot about 1890’s fashion now, and read an entire book about Victorian floriography, or flower language, which features in my presentation,” Cundiff said.
Cundiff is a painter, which she credits as one of the reasons Professor Park approached her with this research project. After she graduates, she is going into a graduate program for Victorian Studies.
“All of the classes I’ve taken with Professor Park have been so interesting and so rewarding, and this project specifically. There is something so rewarding about looking at the material culture of the 1890’s as well as the Victorian Era and at history in general, and it’s very interesting to study and to do that for art was particularly enjoyable for me,” Cundiff said.
Senior Ingrid Kubisa’s research on child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo is a topic Kubisa has had personal experience with.
“I am originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I grew up there, and I left in 2016 when I was twenty. War started in 1996, when I was born, so I grew up seeing people my age becoming child soldiers when I was going to school, and the consequences of that child soldier movement are still happening now. We still have to talk about this, because we haven’t found solutions,” Kubisa said.
Kubisa remembers when fighting broke out in her hometown of Bukavu in 2004.
“It was really surprising to go back to school and see that some of my schoolmates had died, some of them did not come back because they had been taken away to be child soldiers. [I had this] consciousness that this was happening and that I was lucky to still be there, because it was happening in my neighborhood,” Kubisa said.
Kubisa’s father, a pastor, created a nonprofit organization in 2000 which took in victims of war and provided them with psychological help, job training, and helped with their reintegration into society. She interviewed a woman who was helped by her father’s nonprofit after being a child soldier. While her integration was difficult, she went back to school and is now working with Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege.
“Jill [Locke] was a mentor and a supervisor. She was really helpful in planning and writing because… she pushes me to think, and I really love that about her. She’s been there from the beginning, giving advice and pushing me to write the best I can,” Kubisa said.
Kubisa’s main focus is on the role institutions, including governments, social organizations, and religious organizations, can play in rehabilitating child soldiers and in continuing conflicts.
“My dream job is to be someone in between the people and the government, so that when they make decisions they can make them for the common good, in addition to help[ing] my country make good decisions when it comes to signing contracts with other countries. I also want to work with children, because when I left the country I was volunteering at my dad’s organization and I learned that children who were born from rape by the army are not treated as citizens… I’m going to advocate for them to be recognized as citizens. I want to be [someone] who can make change in my country and the world regarding social justice, child soldiers, and peaceful conflict resolution,” Kubisa said.