EugeniaMy name is Eugenia Lee, and I am a senior anthropology major at Tufts University. I was born in Queens, New York to immigrant parents but have spent most of my life living in New Jersey. As someone who has grown up between two different cultures, I am especially interested in the immigrant communities in Somerville. I speak Mandarin Chinese, Swahili, and am working on brushing up on my Spanish!

My interest in community organizing began in 2007, when I worked for the Obama campaign before the primaries in Iowa. Canvassing, walking door to door in the cold and even the rain, and getting in touch with people in the community all made me realize just how important raising community awareness and involving the residents can be.

As a sophomore, I studied abroad in Nairobi, Kenya in Spring 2009. During that time I lived in Kibera, which also houses the second largest slum in Africa. While living there I studied women entrepreneurs who had just received microloans and did photo essays of their lives. This began my interest in urban poverty and ways to alleviate these conditions, especially abroad.

In Winter 2010, with the support of Tufts Institute for Global Leadership and EPIIC, I spent almost a month studying the Dharavi slum in Bombay, India. There I examined how the Dharavi Redevelopment Project, a slum upgrading project, was affecting the private and economic spheres of residents of Dharavi.

I returned again to Nairobi between June to August of 2010, this time to work in the Mathare Valley slum with an education NGO called Dignitas Project. While there I did a mapping of the community schools which can also be accessed virtually here. This involved walking nearly every inch of the slum, extensive interviews with parents and teachers in the community, and more than two months of field work. In addition, I helped initiate a clean water project at one school and had the chance to visit effective public health projects in a neighboring slum.

As an anthropology major, I hope to learn more about how anthropology can be used to create effective development and community projects. I feel that the most important element to creating a successful project is to understand the background, culture, and history of a place. Being someone who has most of her experience abroad, I am interested in learning more about how I can apply anthropological approaches domestically at home!