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Cheng Peng '12 awarded the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2012-2013

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship:

“Pursue your dream after graduation…There’s such a lot of world to see!”

On behalf of the Vassar College Committee on Fellowships, I am pleased to announce that Cheng Peng, an Asian Studies major, has been awarded the Watson Fellowship for independent study and travel outside the United States for 2012-2013.  Mr. Peng will travel to Taiwan, Malaysia, Spain, and the United Kingdom to investigate his topic “In Search of Somatic Enlightenment: Asian Body Philosophy in Modern Dance.”

Mr. Peng plans to “study with prominent choreographers who integrate Asian body philosophies into modern dance. Besides dancing with them, I will also shoot a documentary to explore their philosophies from an objective perspective. Furthermore, through my documentary, I will investigate how artists disseminate modern dance among local community. I will interview local audience about their relationship to modern dance and the influence of dance on people's daily lives. My Watson project is both a personal artistic pursuit and a critical study of cultural globalization.”

Art has always been an intrinsic part of Cheng's life. He started painting at the age of three and playing the piano when he was ten. In high school he was a devoted chorus and rock singer and since then has also been a filmmaker. All of these artistic engagements lead him to dance - the art of image and sound, time and space. For Cheng, dance is not only about passion, but also a deep and quiet love. He dances because expressing with his body without any external medium, connects him most sincerely to himself and his audience.

Forty selective private liberal arts colleges are members of the Watson program and each may nominate up to four seniors.  Out of 147 finalists, 40 new Fellows were selected.  This years fellows come from fifteen states and seven countries and exhibits a broad range of academic specialty, socio-economic background, and life experience. As the forty-forth class of Watson Fellows, they’ll traverse seventy-four countries, exploring topics from neuroscientific art to beekeeping, from earth's extreme life to Asian modern dance, from orphanages to ocean acidification, from youth activism to astronomy.

About the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

“The Foundation provides Fellows an opportunity for a focused and disciplined year of their own devising—a period in which they can have some surcease from the lockstep of prescribed educational and career paths in order to explore a particular interest thoroughly.  During their year abroad, Fellows have an unusual, sustained, and demanding opportunity to take stock of themselves, to test their aspiration and abilities, to view their lives and American society in greater perspective, and to develop a more informed sense of international concern.”

—The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship,
a program of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation