WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A Wake Forest University student was awarded a $2,000 grant to travel overseas and research the vanishing cultural tradition of women’s facial tattoos.
Anthropology/journalism junior Yasmin Bendaas will head to the Aures Mountains of northern Algeria in May as part of her student fellowship.
Officials said Bendaas will use video to help her research the facial tattoos of elderly women of the Chaouia.
“I like the idea that you are learning from people constantly,” Bendaas said. “Seeing people interact this way also helps with my focus on journalism and telling great stories without filters.”
Bendaas said she became interested after three family visits to Algeria during her childhood.
She said her grandmother has tattoos on her face, but about a year ago she noticed fewer and fewer woman had the tattoos.
“None of my aunts have it, none of my cousins. I’m curious why it’s a tradition and why it seems to be going away. I want to tell the story before they disappear entirely,” Bendaas said.
Bendaas received the opportunity from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and members of its Campus Consortium group.
Bendaas is the first WFU student to win this fellowship from the Pulitzer Center. The university recently joined the Center’s Campus Consortium, which promotes foreign correspondents and overseas reporting.
Justin Catanoso, director of the school’s journalism program, said the school is excited to have Bendaas as a first Pulitzer fellow.
“She’s smart and curious and has a world view from her own background and her own ethnic heritage that makes her an ideal foreign correspondent,” Catanoso said.