From fleeing classroom protestors to jogging across an entire nation to meeting Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Gettysburg College's record class of six Fulbright grant winners are gaining a world of experience.
In locales as far-flung as Oman, Portugal, Turkey, and Bahrain, the Class of 2010 members are engaged in everything from promoting sustainable eco-tourism to studying transportation logistics to serving as English teaching assistants.
In addition, religion Prof. Deborah Sommer earned a Fulbright award to teach in in Lithuania at Vilnius University's Center for Oriental Studies during the 2010-2011 academic year. Read about her plans
Also, three 2010 grads -- Molly Beyer, Katie Chandler, and Emily Mahoney -- are English teaching assistants in secondary schools in an Austrian government program. The Fulbright Commission administers applications to the program.
Helping students earn prestigious grants and scholarships, such as the Fulbright and Rhodes, is a major priority for Gettysburg College, which offers provides strong faculty mentoring and administrative support for students committed to earning such honors.
Janelle Papay, Germany
"It is fascinating when a German girl of 10 years can sing a Miley Cyrus song without stumbling over pronunciation," wrote Janelle Papay, who is teaching English and American studies to students from 11 to 20 years old in Brackenheim, Germany.
A key part of her teaching success comes from far outside the classroom. She uses her experience as a facilitator for the Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board, the College's outdoor education program, to get students "up out of their seats." Her focus on experiential education also includes taking part in theater, choir, and soccer organizations, all of which provide opportunities for her students to learn American expressions and manners. "I'm learning a lot about my own culture as well as German culture," she said.
Papay majored in German and globalization studies at Gettysburg College, where she said a "dream team" of professors and administrators helped her earn her Fulbright. "Gettysburg College is like Walt Disney World," she wrote. "It's a place of inspiration, a place where dreams come true."
Marc Fialkoff, England
Marc Fialkoff had to flee quickly when 200 tuition-increase protestors took over a lecture hall, but otherwise he said the United Kingdom has been wonderful. He is pursuing transportation studies at Leeds University, where that scholarly discipline was born. "My professors write the books I use and ... and we learn from their experiences," he wrote. "A few of my professors testify in front of Parliament."
Fialkoff is also learning about the relationship between transport policy and the environment through field research in Finland, Estonia, Belgium, Germany, and Holland.
"Studying in the UK has changed my life. Gettysburg was the catalyst," wrote Fialkoff. The former political science major thanked a long list of professors and administrators "for all their help and how they guided me and gave me the confidence I needed" to gain a Fulbright. When he returns from Europe, Fialkoff plans to study maritime law.
Fialkoff was also among numerous Gettysburg students who received an undergraduate research grant from the Mellon Foundation.
Tim Cullen, Bahrain
Tim Cullen witnessed political unrest in Bahrain and wrote an article about it for his hometown newspaper, the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine. Prior to the upheaval, he described his experience as follows.
Few people have run across an entire country, but Tim Cullen, whose Fulbright took him to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain, is one of them. First he completed the 9.5-mile, nearly coast-to-coast Cross-Bahrain Run; then he completed the Bahrain International Half-Marathon.
He has also developed stamina as a teacher, leading seven English classes each week with students whose command of the language varies widely. "As soon as the students came through, I was thrown right into the fire," he wrote. "All of my students are also in their first year at the Bahrain Training Institute, so we have all been learning together."
Cullen has also begun to make his way across the challenging cultural landscape of Bahrain, which runs the gamut from the majority Shia Muslims to the economically dominant Sunnis to an unusually diverse international population. However, the former globalization studies and political science major has had some reminders of home, including a visit from his brother Andy, who was on his way back to the U.S. from Mongolia, and a handshake from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during an embassy meet-and-greet prior to a security summit.
Adam Ortiz, Turkey
"Living in Turkey is an amazing experience, especially getting to understand a country and a culture that many people have misconceptions about," wrote Adam Ortiz. "On so many occasions I have experienced 'Turkish hospitality,' where people go so far out of their way to make sure you are comfortable that even the most guarded person would feel instantly at ease. I have also acquired a taste for cay (Turkish tea) and have come to the realization that most of society's problems could be solved if we just sat down and talked them out over a few cups.
Ortiz, who majored in political science and minored in Italian studies, is teaching English in the Tourism Faculty of Nevsheir University. "My students are very excited and motivated to learn. When I enter the classroom I can hear a chorus of students saying 'Hojam (my teacher), I have a question!' The class is always buzzing with activity and I feel that I am really contributing to their future by providing them with a vital skill they will use in their future careers in Turkey's tourism industry."
"Gettysburg College has really given me the knowledge and confidence to try new things and think of new and dynamic responses to challenges, both of which are vital to my success here in Turkey," wrote Ortiz, who thanked numerous professors and administrators who "helped guide me through this process and have had an important role in my development and have encouraged me to set my sights so high."
Robyn Byrne, Oman
As with Ortiz, hospitality is at the heart of what Robyn Byrne is learning in Oman, another Persian Gulf state. In Muscat, the capital city, she is studying environmental standards and best practices at hotels. Her Fulbright grant is enabling her to collaborate with her faculty advisor in the Department of Tourism at Sultan Qaboos University, where she is a also a tutor in the university's Writing Center. In addition to teaching others, she studied Arabic in an intensive program in Cairo, Egypt, thanks to a Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award.
"Gettysburg first gave me the chance to explore Oman through a semester abroad," wrote Byrne, who majored in economics and international affairs. The College then enabled her "to continue my connection through language study in a self guided Arabic language class, and with the help of so many of my professors and the Provost's office, to build a competitive application to return to Oman.
"The work I am doing now is a direct result of the excellent independent research and writing skills I received throughout my undergraduate education," Byrne continued. "The analytical skills reinforced through a liberal arts education helped me to craft an original research project which focuses on the incredible growth, modernization and development of the Gulf region- avoiding generalizations and stereotypes all too common in our discourse on the Middle East."
Jennifer Lech, Portugal
Jennifer Lech is the first Gettysburg College student to earn a Fulbright to a Portuguese-speaking country.
"Gettysburg College helped me to prepare for my experience in Portugal in many ways," Lech wrote. "Without the opportunity to pursue a double-major in psychology and Spanish, I may not have been provided a strong enough background for my current position as a Fulbright grantee. "
"My major in Spanish also allowed me opportunities to work with the Gettysburg community as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor, which was extremely valuable as I am now working as an English Teaching Assistant," she continued. "In addition, my degree in psychology has been essential, considering I am associated with the Department of Psychology and Educational Science at the University of Porto, and one of the responsibilities of my position is proofreading and reviewing academic texts that the University will publish in English.
"I am also extremely grateful for the support that Gettysburg College has for the study abroad program," Lech wrote. " If not for the outstanding efforts that the college makes in assisting students with studying abroad, I am not sure that I would have pursued a Fulbright fellowship. Living in another country for a semester was life-changing, and it was what sparked my desire to live abroad again. I am planning to apply for my master's degree in psychology for the upcoming year, and about half of the schools to which I will apply are outside of the United States."
Lech's study-abroad experience also helped her win the College website's Photo of the Day contest. A gallery of her photographs is online.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Jim Hale, senior staff writerPosted: Wed, 9 Feb 2011
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