BC Students Net 14 Fulbrights to Date
ByStudents working abroad usually experience a moment when they become acutely aware of how far they are from home. For Kerry Kennedy '10, one moment came when she looked at the roster of children in an after-school program outside Cape Town, South Africa, where she was to volunteer.
Feeling already self-conscious because of her skin color and American accent, Kennedy - who at the time was studying at the University of Cape Town for her junior year abroad - wondered if she could pronounces names like Cwayita, Snethemba, Nyameka, Zwelethu or Bonginkosi.
There were other moments when Kennedy realized the vast differences between her life and those of her students, such as when she would pass families living in one-room homes built of scrap metal and wood, where children cuddled on a dirty mattress.
But for all those instances of discomfort or dislocation, Kennedy says her time in South Africa helped her learn "the value of building a relationship of trust between a teacher and her students." Back in the US and Boston College, she found she wanted to return to the country where her passion for teaching had blossomed.
This coming January, she will have that chance. The Monroe, NY, native will travel under a Fulbright grant to South Africa, where she will work as an English teaching assistant. Kennedy is one of 14 BC students - along with three others named as alternates - to earn a pŒrestigious Fulbright, which supports a year's post-baccalaureate study abroad.
Kennedy's award represents some significant milestones: She is believed to be the first Lynch School of Education undergraduate to earn a Fulbright, and is the first BC undergrad Fulbright winner to go to South Africa; moreover, the program in which she is serving as a teaching assistant is in its first year.
"Being selected to be a Fulbright Scholar, for me, means that nothing is impossible," says Kennedy, who after her Fulbright year plans to pursue a master's degree in international education development at Columbia Teachers College. "It means that I am successful, that I am unique, and that I am passionate about the things that I love.
"When it comes down to it though, receiving a Fulbright ETA grant means that I am lucky. I feel grateful and honored to represent my family, my university, and my country as a Fulbright Scholar across the world and hope with all my heart that my passions are enough to help me achieve success while I am there."
A look at the other BC students who have been selected as Fulbright finalists or alternates:
Elizabeth Annis (Alternate)
HOMETOWN: Bainridge Island, Wash.
PROJECT: Research the traditional and modern medical systems in Malawi and study how integration of modern techniques can improve HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.
PLANS: Graduate program in international public health.
QUOTE: "I developed a special interest in Africa following a study abroad experience in Ghana. During my five-month stay, I studied international development at the University of Ghana and discovered my specific interest in international public health. The idea for this project stemmed from a topic of discussion in one of my classes in Ghana."
David Bluhm (Alternate)
HOMETOWN: Danville, Calif.
PROJECT: Explore the concept of the "American Dream" with German students, using a variety of American sources.
PLANS: Medical school
QUOTE: "I look at this as an opportunity to see the world, while also connecting with my family. I never knew my grandfather, who grew up in Germany and later devoted his life to German Studies, so in learning more about the German culture, I hope to discover a little bit about who he was."
Mark Buttweiler, '09
HOMETOWN: Lindstrom, Minn.
PROJECT: Study of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, a political party that represents minority groups in Bulgaria.
PLANS: Continued study on minority politics and how they can function in political systems through a master's program; ultimate goal is to work as a diplomat for the State Department.
QUOTE: "Professor (Mariela) Dakova in Slavic and Eastern Languages introduced me to Bulgaria, and after studying in Eastern Europe, I became fascinated with minority politics. The Bulgarian case is specifically important to study, because the situation may be applicable to other post-Soviet countries. Bulgaria is slowly integrating the ethnic Turks into the political system through the work of the Movement of Rights and Freedoms, and if this can happen successfully, and peacefully, the model can perhaps be adopted by other countries with non-dominant groups."
HOMETOWN: Queens, NY
PROJECT: English teaching assistantship in a local high school.
PLANS: Program analyst, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Boston; career interests in social justice and public policy.
Quote: "I'm looking forward to observing the culture in a different part of Germany. I spent a semester abroad in the western part of the country and now I will be in the north, near Denmark. This is a great opportunity to improve my language skills by working with students every day. I'm looking forward to doing something new, because that's the best way to learn."
HOMETOWN: Dehra Dun, India
PROJECT: Conduct research on ancient childbirth practices using biblical texts and archaeological evidence, and take classes at Hebrew University and learn modern Hebrew. She plans to publish a scholarly essay in a research journal on the understanding of childbirth in the ancient near East, particularly biblical Israel.
PLANS: Pursue master's degree in Hebrew Bible studies at Yale Divinity; hopes to earn a PhD in Hebrew Bible and ancient Near Eastern studies and to be a professor and biblical scholar.
QUOTE: "While the classes I take will be immediately beneficial to my academic goals, I will also engage with the contemporary Israeli educational system, and interact with other students who have grown up in a culture different from my own. While in Israel, I also hope to involve myself with a local women's group that is focused on women's health issues. By doing so, I will be able to immerse myself more fully in Israeli contemporary culture and better understand the complexity of the intersection of culture and obstetrics, tradition and birthing methods."
HOMETOWN: Cape Cod, Mass.
PROJECT: English teaching assistantship
PLANS: Continued study
QUOTE: "I have spent a lot of time in Latin America, and not much time in Spain, so I wanted to diversify my grasp of the Spanish language and my understanding of the various cultures that are attached to it."
Sarah Lang (Alternate)
HOMETOWN: Monroe, NY
PROJECT: Lead several local groups in a community-based methodology using theater as a tool for dialogue and social action. Take classes in development communication at Pontificia Universidad.
PLANS: Work with Teach for America in St. Louis.
QUOTE: "Being selected was a nice affirmation of the value of my project and the work that I did to put it together."
HOMETOWN: Vernon, Conn.
PROJECT: Explore the field of education as an English teaching assistant in German schools.
PLANS: Graduate school for German language and literature
QUOTE: "I am grateful for the chance to return to Germany. I'm especially anxious to experience a new city and perfect my German language skills. I am also greatly looking forward to being able to share my own native language and culture with German students."
Hometown: Lincoln, Neb.
Project: English teaching assistant in a local high school
Plans: L.E.K. Consulting, Boston; career interests in education.
Quote: "I'm really excited about working with these high school students. I've always been interested in education as a field of work. Teaching high school students in Spain and implementing an entrepreneurship program with them will give me a better idea of what it is like to work as an educator."
HOMETOWN: Enfield, Conn.
PROJECT: English teaching assistant, educating Argentine students about the English language and American culture, and research the linguistic differences in various regions throughout Argentina.
PLANS: Pursue an advanced degree in linguistics.
QUOTE: "I hope to begin an extensive research project on linguistic differences between Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in South America. I also plan to work with a variety of international organizations that will provide information to the peoples of Argentina about traveling and volunteering abroad."
HOMETOWN: Bedford, NH
PROJECT: In affiliation with the Free University of Berlin and German Institute for International and Security Affairs, he will research former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's unifying plan of action, which could serve as a model for a future Syrian coalition.
PLANS: Work on Capitol Hill and pursue graduate studies in political science.
QUOTE: "I hope to learn about the principles and methods of German foreign policy that contribute to making Germany an effective peace broker in the Middle East. I also hope to experience the richness of German culture while forming relationships that will allow me to share the best of America with our German friends."
Hometown: Lincolnshire, Ill.
Project: English teaching Assistant in a local high school
Plans: Considering the Peace Corps and graduate study in public health; career interests in international public health.
Quote: "I'm just excited to have this opportunity and to go back to Germany after studying in Munich my junior year. I'm looking forward to being in a new place, meeting new people and being able to improve my German. I know I will learn a lot from everyone there and hopefully teach them a lot as well."
HOMETOWN: Bayside, NY
DESTINATION: South Korea
PROJECT: English teaching assistantship
PLANS: Pursue a doctorate in pharmacy, clinical research and/or teach graduate school.
QUOTE: "I've never been to South Korea before, but I am really looking forward to connecting with the culture in a way that's different from the Korean-American experience I've grown up with in New York City."
HOMETOWN: Omaha, Neb.
PROJECT: Serve as an English teaching assistant, guide a weekly English discussion group for students focused on personal and global health care issues and shadow Russian doctors and medical students on clinical rounds.
PLANS: Medical school
QUOTE: "I hope to become fluent in Russian and gain experience working with people, as well as to gain international experience in order to be a more competent doctor in the future."
HOMETOWN: Tigard, Ore.
PROJECT: Working as English teaching assistant; exploring the development and convergence of Bulgarian dialects, with primary focus on the "yat" isogloss - a lost vowel that has spawned different pronunciations in different geographic regions of the country.
QUOTE: "This is an opportunity for both personal growth, and hopefully, really sharing what I can about the English language and American culture with Bulgarian high school students and those I meet. Personally, serving as an ETA in Bulgaria will give me the experience of living in a foreign country while stepping out of the role of tourist to become an involved observer in a country and culture which I have come to care deeply about."
HOMETOWN: Latham, NY
PROJECT: Investigate the historical and contemporary views of the role of science in human societies, its connections to art, and the similarities and differences of Austrian and American understandings of these issues.
PLANS: Considering graduate study in philosophy/science and technology, or work at an emerging technology firm.
QUOTE: "The Fulbright Scholarship I've won is a tremendous honor, and gives me the opportunity to pursue my interests in a new and exciting environment."
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Senior Meredith Collier and graduate student Jeffery Dyer have each been awarded a US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for this summer.
The two are among 575 US undergraduate and graduate students who will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in 15 countries where critical-needs languages are spoken. Collier will study Korean, while Dyer will take instruction in Turkish.
The CLS program was established in 2006 as part of US government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-needs languages, which include Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Hindi and Urdu. Nearly 5,300 students applied for CLS this year.