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Fred Rweru Is Quite a Fellow ... A Watson Fellow

A sixteen year obsession with the game of cricket has lead Fred Rweru to fulfill a dream. Rweru,’07, a Physical Education major from Kampala, Uganda, has been awarded a $25,000 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship for 2007-2008 to conduct a year of independent study and travel outside of the United States. As the 26th Berea College student to be awarded a Watson Fellowship since1988, Rweru plans to cover the globe studying the game of cricket and its political and social implications.

Fred Rweru

His project “Leather, Willow and Empire: Cricket’s ‘Mutation’ in former British Colonies” will lead Rweru to the United Kingdom, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, India and Australia. It has always been Rweru’s dream to play cricket in all of these countries. “Cricket is important to me because it’s an avenue towards understanding and experiencing lives that revolve around the game, and in many ways examining my own self, too," he says.

Through studying and playing the game in these countries, Rweru will be able to explore how and why the game has uniquely “mutated” in the four major cricketing regions of the world. “When you study cricket in these countries you really learn about the people there, their history," he explains. "When you talk about cricket in these countries you talk about the lives of these people.”

“I will play with the very best in those countries and one of the very best in the world in Australia,” says Rweru. He plans to visit various universities and museums to talk with professors and historians who study the game, and he will visit the renown Lord’s Cricket Ground in England - a site often referred to as "The Home of Cricket" - as well as the Melbourne Cricket Grounds in Australia, among others. Rweru will not only be playing with the most elite players but also with those who play at the school and club level.

It was school level cricket that ignited Rweru’s passion for the sport. His experience as a “cricketer” began in 1990 when a coach from England sparked Rweru’s interest. “I just found it by some chance and I thought this was really coo, [and] I have been playing ever since," he recalls. His mother declared that he was obsessed with the game, and his teachers said he needed to spend less time playing and more time on school. “I could have gotten better grades in high school, but I really loved cricket,” Rweru says. After finishing school, he continued by playing at the club level and for Uganda's junior national team.

Rweru's plans upon returning to the States are flexible at this point, but he hopes to pursue a degree in law and return to Uganda to teach or start a non-governmental organization to deal with various issues in his country.

For now, Rweru is starting his trip with an open mind. “Things do not always go according to plan on the Watson Fellowship," he says. "I will have some failures, successes and frustrations. If it works, marvelous, if it doesn’t or when it doesn’t, I will have to be flexible. I will walk miles to get to the places I need to get if I have to.”

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