Hi! My name is Kaitlyn Stork Bowles and I am a junior at Tufts. I am majoring in Anthropology and Community Health. While not in class, I fill my time with Rugby and Mock Trial and also volunteer at the Mystic Learning Center in Somerville. I am originally from a small town in Northern California called Lafayette; a suburb of San Francisco. I grew up living with my parents and my older sister. However, I am lucky that I also have two half-brothers, a step-sister and a step-brother. They are all older than I am, and three of them even have kids (I am an aunt seven times over). Needless to say, there were always many family members around when I was living at home, and they all played a large role in my upbringing.

Although my family wasn’t too keen on traveling to the places I was most interested in (Africa, India, China…), I was fortunate enough to travel a lot as a kid. My interests in exploring the world and volunteering lead me to Zimbabwe three years ago. I think that was the first time in my life that I had been in the minority for an extended period of time and the first time that I had been in a developing country without my family. During that trip I interacted with a lot of different individuals and ultimately made a documentary of my time there. After Zimbabwe I was hooked. I learned so much from the people I met there even though their lives are so much different than my own. I was infatuated with their traditions and culture, which is part of the reason I ended up being an Anthropology major.

I was originally on the waitlist for this class, and I don’t think I would have been so adamant about staying in the class if I did not have the experiences that I had this summer. As I mentioned in class, this summer I was an intern for the Somerville Homeless Coalition. For the first couple of weeks we had the daunting task of updating the Somerville Resource Directory. Although calling every service provider in the Somerville/Cambridge area was quite the job, it helped me learn a lot about the resources available. This came in quite handy when we started doing interviews. My fellow interns and I completed over 150 interviews with people who were in need of some sort of service (food, housing, employment…). We conducted the interviews in a variety of sites around Somerville so we got to know Davis Square and East Somerville quite well. However, before this summer I had never really taken note of the distinction between East and West Somerville, nor did I know my way to and/or around East Somerville. Now that I have worked with an array of service providers in East Somerville, I feel far more comfortable exploring it. In the past six months I have learned more about Somerville, and the range of people living here, than I know about Lafayette, where I lived for eighteen years. However, even though I have learned a lot about Somerville, I think that there is a lot I have yet to learn about, particularly in regards to the immigrant population.