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Karima Daoudi '09

We Are Knox...

Karima Daoudi '09

Fulbright-MTVU Grantee

Major: Anthropology and Sociology

by Matt McKinney '13

Karima Daoudi will be the first to tell you -- perseverance pays.

During her senior year, Daoudi '09 applied for a Fulbright-MTVU fellowship,
which would have sent her to New Zealand to study the role of reggae music
in unifying diverse Pacific Islander communities; however, of the thousands of applicants, only five were selected, and Daoudi failed to make the cut.

"I was disappointed, but I wasn't discouraged," said Daoudi, an anthropology and sociology major. "I wanted to give it another shot."

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and has helped fund overseas research for more than 300,000 participants. The Fulbright-MTVU fellowship branch of the program is designed to explore music's potential to advance cross-cultural understanding.

Daoudi applied again.

This time her project involved traveling to Dakar, Senegal, to explore the relationship between the thriving Dakar hip-hop scene and the traditional Senegalese griot culture. Daoudi said that the key was making an effort to build a more complete proposal.

"I asked more questions, did more research about what the committee was really looking for, and made stronger connections with institutions in the host country," Daoudi said.

In Dakar, more than 3,000 hip-hop groups perform at concerts, open-mic nights, and appear on local television and radio. But in many ways, modern Senegalese pop-culture can be traced back to its roots in griot tradition.

"Griots are people who have grown up in musical families that go back many generations," Daoudi said. "They are experts in different instruments and have a deep knowledge of family lineages and local histories. Many still make their living singing at weddings or baby-naming ceremonies."

"The two groups are different, but they each fulfill an important part of contemporary life," Daoudi said.

Knox played a critical role in preparing her for the fellowship, Daoudi said.

"For me, Knox was kind of like an incubator for the real world. I was able to travel, research, propose, organize, produce, and experiment in a small, controlled, supportive environment and prepare myself for doing all of the aforementioned things in the real world."

While at Knox, Daoudi was involved in International Club and hosted a weekly radio show on WVKC that showcased music from around the world. She also studied abroad in Besançon, France, which she said helped improve her French language skills and helped ease the transition to life in Senegal, where French is the official language.

After her research, Daoudi said she would like to pursue a post-graduate degree in art or music administration.

"I'm not exactly sure what the future holds yet, but it will be fun and exciting, whatever it is."

Read Daoudi's blog about her experience in Senegal.