PKG Fellowships: Ambar Reyes (SM ’22)
Meet Ambar Reyes who recently received her SM in Comparative Media Studies. Ambar is currently serving as a Summer ’22 PKG Fellow and previously served as a PKG Fellow during IAP ’22. Learn more about her aspirations and successes here.
Ambar was born and raised in Mexico, where she also completed her undergraduate career studying Animation and Digital Art. She worked for approximately ten years before applying to her master’s program at MIT. She applied to Comparative Media Studies (CMS) to learn how to think critically about media. This aspiration ultimately became part of an opening part of an important research project for Ambar, empowering her to enable social change through the art of storytelling in her PKG project.
Initially, Ambar became familiarized with the PKG Center through the referral of a friend in her program. Her peer suggested she apply to the PKG Center and boasted about her summer project, which influenced Ambar to apply for the fellowship and explore her interest in working with delivery workers in NYC. As Ambar relieved her good old days biking in NYC, she recalled a time when she stopped at a speedlight, and became captivated by the conversations and Spanish-playing songs at the stop.
She was drawn to find out more about the group behind it all, and it did not take her long. Ambar learned it was the NYC food delivery workers and grew increasingly interested in who they were, wanting to get to know them and explore the community and their stories. Upon taking on this endeavor, Ambar found out the delivery workers were organizing to contest the lack of response from the government. They were frustrated the government kept referring to them as essential workers but continued to neglect their needs. Ambar began joining Facebook groups, grew increasingly involved, and saw the PKG fellowship as a good opportunity to give back to the delivery worker community as they organized for safety.
For her thesis research, Ambar studied how delivery workers use social media platforms to distribute knowledge about the lack of resources in NYC. Through her endeavors, Ambar examined how delivery workers protect each other through community watch methods that boost information flows between delivery workers’ on social media outlets such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Ambar noted that delivery worker groups are associated with indigenous communities in Mexico, which she also navigated in her thesis. In her defense, Ambar successfully explored these intricacies and related them to immigration as a communication channel and social forms of organizing.
Similarly, Ambar focused on this work in her PKG projects by exploring two specific areas: First, she created the official website for the NYC Delivery Workers. Second, she conducted data analyses to quantify the number of bike robberies, specifically tracking how many bikes were stolen daily and accidents.
We are proud of Ambar for the work she’s completed and for successfully defending her thesis! Find out more about what empowers Ambar to use storytelling to spark social change and her overall experience with PKG:
“I have a long-standing interest in the power of stories as a way to motivate societal change. We use stories to understand ourselves and the world, but most importantly, to cultivate connections with others. At MIT, I have found in the PKG Center the ideal space, guidance and funding to explore that interest to cultivate connections and to collaborate and give back to the community I’ve been working with as part of my thesis’ research.”
Interested in PKG Fellowships? To learn more about PKG Fellowship programs, click here. Summer ’23 PKG Fellowships are open until March 21st at noon. To learn more about Summer ’23 PKG Fellowships and apply, click here.