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My Swat Story: Fouad Dakwar '22

Fouad Dakwar '22 rests arms on railing of balcony

Major: Music
Hometown: New York, N.Y.

He's Made Music in Real Time

"I was inspired by the cellist Esperanza Spalding, who did a 72-hour livestream during which she wrote and produced an album. I tend to create based on sudden bursts of inspiration, so I thought this played on my strengths and would hold me accountable. I started with a 12-hour stream last year and then did one for 24 hours over Winter Break. The whole week before, I was having harsh anxiety dreams and worrying that it would go disastrously, but when I got into the room, it was so natural. I was just lost in the music and came up with four songs that I'm really happy with.”

He Wrote a Rock Opera about the "Radium Girls"

"I wrote the opera because I was moved by their story. During WWI, most U.S. men were sent to combat and women were given access to more jobs than ever, like painting glow-in-the-dark watch dials with radium. The men who did this job had been given full protective gear, unlike the women that took their place. They were instead directed to lick their brushes to get a finer tip. As a result, they started brutally dying off one by one from radiation poisoning. When they tried to take their case to court, the company paid scientists to publish fake studies downplaying the dangers of radium. They knew they could drag on the trial until all of the remaining survivors died off too. It reminded me of how we perpetuate "fake news", deny climate change, and gaslight people who are wronged by corporations all while denying marginalized people any justice in the so-called 'criminal-justice system.

"Putting it all together was a collaborative process which is one of the things I love most about producing musical theater and opera. The performance was well-received and definitely one of the best experiences I've had at Swarthmore."

Swarthmore's Activism Appealed to Him from Day One 

"When I first visited, it just felt like a community where everyone was just as committed and passionate and brilliant as everyone else. I could feel that in the air, and especially in the activist communities. Being a part of those and Students for Justice in Palestine in particular has been really shaping in a lot of ways, and I've learned so much about activism and community-building.”