“The Humanities Engage Immersive Summer Fellowship is an invaluable experience where you can practice all that you have learned in class. Furthermore, you can find new answers to questions you might be grappling with or find an assortment of new questions that can guide your research.”
Felipe Castañeda’s transnational academic background started with a BA in Teaching of Modern Languages in his home country of Colombia, followed by an MA in Hispanic Language and Literature in Korea, and continues at Pitt as he works towards a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures. As he travelled through airports, he experienced humiliating treatment on account of his “nationality (Colombian being taken as a sign for drug dealer) and presumed ethnicity based on skin color and facial features (Middle Eastern appearance equated to terrorist).” These experiences led him to research the production of racialized difference and national identities in global hegemonic, capitalistic societies.
In summer 2020, Castañeda worked as a research assistant with RefocusED for a Pitch Your Own Summer Immersive. RefocusED is a nonprofit organization that researches the development and redefinition of education practices, curriculum, and programs to foster and cultivate healthier and safer learning and teaching environments. The immersive allowed Castañeda to develop his research interests and consolidate his skills in creating research questions, observational tools, and data registration in preparation for future field research. RefocusED in turn gained questions and data to implement an action plan to alleviate pre-pandemic discriminatory practices exacerbated by COVID-19.