The U.S. State Department and MTV announced recently that Sebastian Modak, a senior editorial assistant at the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT, was awarded a 2012 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship. The Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship is awarded to four recipients each year and is given to individuals who wish to study music as a cultural force of expression. Recipients of this award are selected based on the quality of the proposal, academic record and by the degree to which the candidate and project will help encourage mutual understanding among nations through engagement in the host community.
Sebastian, a graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, will focus on the relationship between a unique style of hip-hop called motswako, and HIV/AIDS awareness in Botswana. He will employ a programmatic and culturally sensitive method of capitalizing on the popularity of motswako to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in Botswana.
His goals, during his year in Botswana, include the formation of a collective of musicians committed to being part of the battle against the country’s AIDS epidemic. He also will create video webisodes illustrating his research and provide frequent updates through the Fulbright-mtvU blog. Post-fellowship aspirations include the release of a compilation album, imparting the recordings of local Batswana artists with those from the United States in a cross-culture musical synthesis. His project will start in January 2013.