2012-2013 Luce Scholar
Village Focus International Laos Vientiane, Laos
Reid Magdanz grew up in the Iñupiat Eskimo town of Kotzebue, perched on a gravel spit in Northwest Alaska. With only 3,000 people and no roads in or out, it had few of city life's amenities, but offered unparalleled opportunity for learning about and living on the land. He spent much of his childhood in open-air boats, behind snowmobile handlebars, in woodheated cabins, and camped out on sandbars watching for caribou or simply enjoying the great outdoors. Reid learned from and with the Iñupiat, who have called the area home for generations. After graduating from high school, Yale offered an unparalleled opportunity of a different sort, one he could not turn down. He has spent the last three and a half years learning from people who may have not spent a night without running water but know much better how to dress in New York or how to give a speech before two hundred people. But home has always been in Alaska, not Connecticut, so he has supplemented his cultural and social education in the ways of urban America with an academic focus on Alaska. Reid chose his courses, projects and papers such that, despite being 4,000 miles away, he learned about its natural resource policies and indigenous peoples. He intends to bring this knowledge and training back to Alaska to confront the critical resource decisions, from offshore oil drilling to management of national parks, that rural Alaska will face in coming decades. He plans to spend his career grappling with issues such as the role and importance of traditional Native subsistence uses, non-Native resource uses, industrial development, and conservation. Reid does not know what sector he will work in or the specific job he will hold, but his commitment to Alaska will not waver.