Fieldwork, mentorship essential to South Indian research for Kathryn Gerry ‘20

Gerry is spending the summer capturing the narratives and realities of South Indian migrants and their communities as part of her research as a Multifaith Scholar.

This article is one in a series that is highlighting Elon students as they gain experience participating in study abroad, internships and undergraduate research during the summer. Stay tuned for more posts featuring the experiences of Elon students in their own words. 

Kathryn Gerry ’20, right, with Associate Professor Amy Allocco, center, at the Hindu Goddess temple that has been Allocco’s long-standing field site for her research. (Courtesy of Multifaith Scholars)

​For the next month, Kathryn Gerry ’20 will be deeply immersed in communities in South India as she conducts fieldwork for her research as a Multifaith Scholar at Elon.

Along with the work she did before arriving in India in mid-June, Gerry is equipped with the knowledge and support she gleaned from her mentor, Associate Professor of Religious Studies Amy Allocco, as the two spent a week together in South India in late June.

Gerry said that mentorship experience with Allocco, who heads the Multifaith Scholars program at Elon, offered vital practice for the interviews she’ll be be conducting throughout July with South Indian migrants.

Gerry at the airport preparing to travel to India

​“During my first interview I heard from a PhD student who spoke candidly and intelligently about her knowledge of and experience with the topic of my research, Gulf migration,” Gerry said by email. “After having conducting a two-semester extensive literature review, I loved this chance to hear from the voices of people rather than read scholars. I am motivated from these first interviews to continue to seek out the experiences of other Malayalis (people from Kerala, India) in order to capture the realities of their lives and Gulf migration.”

Gerry is among the Elon students offering guest posts for the university’s social media accounts this summer to showcase the diversity of experiences they are acquiring while away from campus.

Gerry, who is majoring in political science and international & global studies, was drawn to undergraduate research because it offered her the ability to study something she is passionate about, and then to use her own voice to increase awareness about an issue. “Specifically, I became interested in my research project because of the way it combines my areas of academic interest, connecting my regional areas of Middle East and Asia with interreligious studies on a global scale by tracking flows of migration.”

Watch Elon’s social media accounts this summer to see guest posts from Gerry and other Elon students as they participate in research, global study and internships across the country and around the world.