Aklilu Reda (Ethiopia)
PhD Candidate in Anthropology
Aklilu began his doctoral work at UK after completing a two-year fellowship at the University of Hokkaido in Japan and having previously served as the Director of the Institute of Paleo-environment and Heritage Conservation at Mekelle University in Ethiopia. He credits the Anthropology department for a successful orientation and integration into local culture. "I had an experience in Japan where language barriers and culture prevented me from capitalizing on my presence in society," Akilu said. "The department here at UK made my integration very smooth. There was lots of support. They connected me with the Anthropology Graduate Student Association, and the department was working very hard on my behalf. I was privileged."
The central question of Aklilu's research is how Ethiopians use their cuisine to define themselves and to challenge the racial alignment which designates them as "black" in the United States. He is about to begin a year of fieldwork studying the diasporic populations in Atlanta, a growing hub for the Ethiopian community.
Aklilu said that he finds Kentucky an accessible location with high-quality research. "I was at the fifth ranked university in Japan, but when I came here, I found UK much more engaging and involved in research possibilities. Staff take extra miles to create opportunities ... It is a kind of home where you feel that you are in good hands".