Nika Sabasteanski is a senior at Barnard College at Columbia University studying biology with plans to pursue a Master’s of Public Health. Initially interested in becoming a physician, Nika was inspired by the likes of William Carlos Williams, Anton Chekhov, and Oliver Sacks—the doctors who wrote, as often about their own patients and science as not. Now that she is interested in public health, a domain that melds medicine and policy, she still finds this collision of fields as a catalyst for her poetry. For the past two years, Nika has worked with an organization at the University of Oxford called Oxford Aid to the Balkans throughout Bulgaria aiding and conducting research in the Syrian refugee crisis. This new poetry collection, Bearing Witness, focuses primarily on her work there although it also delves into other moments—the medical, the personal, and the American, where witness was also born. Nika’s poetry has appeared previously in Mad Swirl’s Poetry Forum and the University of Oxford’s Spleen, and has garnered two awards from Barnard College: the Amy Loveman Memorial Prize for best undergraduate poem and the Lenore Marshall Prize for poetry of distinction. An op-ed on the Syrian refugee crisis, “The Refugee Conundrum” was published last January in CounterPunch, preceded by “Kant’s Trouble with Romney: The Enlightenment Gap,” published in Big Think in 2012.
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