Rachel Silver is a joint-degree doctoral candidate in Anthropology and Educational Policy Studies. She talks to African Studies about her research on adolescent pregnancy and school dropout in Malawi, and the challenges and rewards that accompany fieldwork.
Field of study: Anthropology and Educational Policy Studies
Hometown: Originally, Houston, Texas; now I live in Brooklyn, New York
What brought you to Madison?
I came to Madison to pursue a PhD in Educational Policy Studies. I was drawn to the strong Comparative International Education program and faculty. Once at UW, I started to take courses in anthropological theory, and decided to go for a joint PhD. I have had a fantastic experience in both departments.
What inspired your interest in Africa?
I did a gap year program in Western Kenya between high school and college. It was a fantastic immersion experience from which I learned a tremendous amount. During undergrad, I was able to watch as the community in which my college was (and still is!) located experienced significant demographic change, with a large number of Somali refugees choosing the town as a site of secondary resettlement. I became very interested in their journeys across the diaspora, their experiences in local schools, and the challenges they faced during resettlement more generally. I ended up taking part in a multi-sited ethnographic project that led me to the Dadaab refugee camps on the Kenya/Somali border.