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Record twelve honored with Fulbright awards

April 15, 2014

Originally posted on 4/15/14, updated 7/23/14

Seven Lewis & Clark seniors and five alumni will spend the next year overseas after receiving prestigious awards from the Fulbright Program. This is the largest number of Lewis & Clark students and alumni earning Fulbright honors in a single year.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program fosters mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Lewis & Clark is one of the top producers of Fulbright award winners in the country, demonstrating a sustained commitment to international education and engagement.

Haley Farrar J.D. ’11 received a Fulbright research grant and will study Maori legal practices and the concept of restorative justice in New Zealand. Also receiving Fulbright research grants are Lindsay Burnette B.A. ’12, who will study the relationships between landscape architecture, cultural heritage, and sustainability in South Korea, and Charlie Patterson ’14, who will study the effects of urbanization on the rural elderly of China’s Shaanxi Province.

Earning Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships for the 2014-15 academic year are Eve Ben Ezra ’14, Laura Burroughs ’14,* Joe Ellerbroek B.A. ’13,* Kerri Finnegan ’14, Christa Giesecke ’14, Maya Gold ’14, Abbie Hebein B.A. ’12, Laura Schroeder ’14, and Abigail Vining B.A. ’12. We asked what drew them to studying a foreign language and what’s exciting about teaching English in a foreign country.

imageLindsay Burnette B.A. ’12

Major: East Asian Studies
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado
Award: Fulbright Research Fellowship in South Korea

My award will allow me to study the environmental and cultural challenges of rapid urbanization through the lens of South Korea’s cultural landscapes and contemporary landscape design projects. I plan to look at traditional South Korean design principles and their impact on contemporary landscape development, analyzing globally applicable ideas for creating a localized sense of place and addressing environmental issues. My proposed research sites are in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and my affiliation is with Seoul National University, though I hope to explore and travel throughout the country.

My first experience living abroad was when I was 10 and my mom received a Fulbright fellowship to research in Japan. This experience greatly influenced the course of my life. I continued to study Japanese, majored in East Asian studies at Lewis & Clark, and returned to Japan to study during college. I am excited to return to East Asia to conduct research of my own and open new realms of possibilities.

During my time at Lewis & Clark, I developed a passion for learning a place’s history and culture through the physical landscape. After graduating, I became involved with a number of nonprofit organizations in Portland that are based around community development and design, such as the Portland Japanese Garden and Architects Without Borders—Oregon. I also attended a landscape architecture program at Harvard University. These experiences, combined with the knowledge I gained at Lewis & Clark, urged me to continue learning from the landscape on a global level. South Korea is particularly intriguing because over the past century it has experienced profound cultural disconnection and physical destruction due to the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910 and the Korean War in 1953.

Following this massive destruction, waves of urban renewal took over South Korea’s remaining traditional cityscapes, leaving behind a country that is almost 84 percent urbanized and has very little historic fabric still existing. For me, this is a fascinating setting to study cultural history as it is embodied in the urban landscape.

imageLaura Burroughs ’14

Major: International Affairs, German Studies
Hometown: Everett, Washington
Award: U.S. Teaching Assistant for the Austrian-American Education Commission, a branch of the Fulbright Program

I will be teaching English in a small town outside Graz, Austria. In high school, I stayed near there with a host family for two weeks, so I’m thrilled to return. Also, having studied abroad in Germany last year, I’m interested to experience Austria’s differences.

I have been learning German since I was a freshman in high school, and I honestly can’t say that at that point I imagined I’d be where I am now with it. What really got me engaged was learning about the different culture and the idea of traveling someplace new. I think that’s the best thing about learning a language, and why I’m excited to teach English abroad. Learning a language really is like a key to another part of the world. I also think that there are so many different ways to engage people in learning about a different culture and its language, whether it’s through film, food, sports, etc.

imageJoe Ellerbroek B.A. ’13

Major: German Studies
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa

I will be working as a language assistant at an Austrian secondary school starting this fall. The Fulbright commission placed me at two schools near Innsbruck, Austria, where I will lead English conversation classes with students about the same age as those in our high school system.

I enjoyed studying a foreign language because it builds relationships. In the first year of learning a language, it feels a bit like going back to elementary school. We talked about everyday basics like our favorite foods and where we came from. Things get more academically sophisticated in the later years, but we never lost the spirit that we were there to get to know people. I learned that a language is the living, breathing space of relationships, and a good space in which to spend my time at Lewis & Clark.

I had a chance to be in Austria during my year abroad and felt right at home with the culture, the food, and the mountains. I’m excited to hear what the students think about the world, and I’m excited to be there as they build the same relationships that I built from learning a language. 

imageEve Ben Ezra ’14

Major: Mathematics
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Thailand

I’m not sure where I’ll be traveling yet, aside from knowing that I’ll be going to Thailand. While I’m there, I’ll be working as an English teaching assistant and am also hoping to be able to volunteer in a health clinic as a translator. I also hope to be able to conduct research into the cultural and religious history of Thailand and its people.

I’ve always loved foreign languages. For a long time, one of my life goals has been to learn the six official languages of the United Nations (English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic). I’m proficient in French and can get by in Russian and Mandarin. At Lewis & Clark, I started my freshman year in French 101, where I loved the enthusiasm of the professor enough to meet my language requirement and apply for a major in French. Although that didn’t work out, I did get to travel to Strasbourg on a Lewis & Clark overseas program and take a French literature class, which was amazing in and of itself. 

I think it’s very important to learn or at least have a basic knowledge of English as it opens the doors to myriad places and successes. From my experience while traveling, everyone knows at least one or two words of English, which can make crossing the language barrier less stressful. English is not a universal language, for which I’m glad, because foreign languages are important and beautiful things, but English does make it easier to travel, get around, move, or be understood when people don’t speak your maternal language. Even when I visited rural China, the farmers spoke enough English to help me get by and say hello.

imageChrista Giesecke ’14

Majors: Foreign Languages, International Affairs
Hometown: I moved around a lot growing up. The last place I lived before starting at Lewis & Clark was Thessaloniki, Greece.
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Brazil

I will be working as an English teaching assistant alongside an English professor at a federal university in Brazil from March through November 2015. My proposed side project involves working with Brazilian girls to inspire them through running. I’m quite impressed with the success Girls on the Run and other organizations have had in the United States, and am frustrated by the general lack of acceptance of female athleticism in much of South America.

I learned my first second language out of necessity when my family moved from the United States to Germany while I was in elementary school. It was not until later that I realized how valuable this skill was and that it allowed me to connect with a much greater percentage of the world’s population. In high school I became passionate about Spanish and had phenomenal teachers that helped me learn quite a lot in a relatively little amount of time. When we moved to Greece, I continued improving my Spanish at the same time I was socially immersed in Greek, which occasionally caused some confusion.

I was inspired by my first-year roommate and close friend Maia Erickson ’15—who had been a Rotary student in Brazil—to study Portuguese while I was abroad in Argentina. I fell in love instantly and knew that I would love to spend time in Brazil if ever given the opportunity. Everything excites me about the chance to teach in Brazil; I have loved being a Student Academic Affairs Board (SAAB) tutor and would love to try out teaching in a more formal context. Also, I want to dedicate my life to making connections and building bridges internationally and see this as a great opportunity to do so, as I will be representing the United States while abroad. I also love the easygoing nature of Brazilian culture and the focus on people.

imageMaya Gold ’14

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Turkey

I’ll be at a university in Turkey, teaching English to people roughly my own age! I don’t know what city I’ll be in yet, but I’ll be at one of the host of Turkish universities that have been built in the last decade or so. 

I really, truly adore English—I love the idea of watching people learn the intricacies of my native tongue, and guiding them through the weird and wonderful quirks that make my language so unique.

imageAbbie Hebein B.A. ’12

Major: Art History
Hometown: Boulder, Colorado
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico

Shortly after graduation, I began to pursue opportunities in which I could unite my passion for the arts with my interest in public education. I am part of the volunteer team at The Right Brain Initiative, an organization that collaborates with teaching artists, Portland Public School teachers, and administrators to enrich current curriculum through the arts. I also teach an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) conversation class at Portland Community College. It is the integration of art and language education that led me to apply for a Fulbright grant to teach in the public schools in Mexico. I am captivated by the ways art both transcends and translates language. Mexico is a country brimming with famous historical art movements, innovative contemporary art venues, and rich indigenous art practices. I am eager to discover and understand the intersection of art, history, identity, and education within a culture that is saturated in the arts.

In the ESOL class I currently teach, my students are from all over the world. After each lesson I feel as much a student as a teacher. It is this reciprocal exchange that I find most beautiful when teaching language. As an English teaching assistant in Mexico, I strive to inspire such an exchange as both a student of Spanish and a teacher of English. Most of all, I am excited to connect with my students within their country to share and learn each other’s language, culture, and experiences.

imageCharlie Patterson ’14

Major: Political Science
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Award: Fulbright Research Fellowship in China

I’ll fly to Beijing in August to attend an intensive language program at Tsinghua University for five months, and then I’ll move to Xi’an Jiaotong University in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, to conduct research with a professor in the population studies department. I’ll be in Xi’an for 10 months studying government-led urbanization and its effects on elder care. My general research question is whether government-led urbanization will increase the living standards of the rural elderly. 

In the past two years, I’ve been fortunate enough to study Chinese continuously–from my first year at Lewis & Clark, to an intensive summer program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2012, all the way to Beijing and Shanghai in 2013. The experience has transformed my character and influenced my thinking. Through countless hours of writing characters, I have learned to be patient and figured out how to efficiently schedule my time. Patience has increased my capacity to consume information and allowed me to be a more astute analyst, withholding judgment until engaging numerous perspectives. Many botched attempts at reproducing the proper tones of Chinese words have made me more humble and empathetic towards others.

This Fulbright fellowship will not only allow me to learn from distinguished Chinese experts and continue to study Chinese; it will also give me the chance to cultivate many more cross-cultural relationships. The building of relationships one at a time—hopefully many over the course of a year—is how we will build lasting understanding between our two nations. 

imageLaura Schroeder ’14

Major: Sociology/Anthropology
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia

I will be teaching English at the Universidad de Boyacá in the mountain town of Tunja, Colombia, where one of every five residents is a university student. While in Tunja, I will also engage in a community project dealing with environmental sustainability. 

To me, languages are windows to fascinating and different ways of viewing the world, and learning a new language both gives us a glimpse through these windows and allows us to interact with those on the other end. I’ve taken Chinese and Spanish at Lewis & Clark and have consequently seen my horizons broaden. I hope to help my students experience the thrill of feeling the world simultaneously expand and become more familiar that comes with language learning.

imageAbby Vining B.A. ’12

Major: History
Hometown: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Norway

I will be living in Bergen, Norway, teaching at the University of Bergen and the Bergen Cathedral School. Although students in Norway learn English in the primary grades, they often need help with writing in English. To this end, I will be running a writer’s workshop at the university and teaching American studies at the school.

I spent the last two years teaching elementary music at KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy in Helena, Arkansas. The experience of teaching in a high-powered rural charter school has given me a depth of understanding of the American school system—charter schools in particular—that I do not think I would have gained through academic study. I am excited about teaching in Norway because I feel that participating in the Norwegian school system will enable me to construct the most accurate picture of their system and to better situate my experience in the Arkansas Delta within a global education spectrum.

I applied to teach in Norway because I have come to see that many of the problems faced by schools and students are not necessarily educational in nature. Students bring a myriad of traumas into their schools. In my experience, these traumas are often caused by poverty and stresses from an unstable home environment. When comparing international test scores, Norway does not score tremendously higher than the United States; they do, however, have a significantly smaller gap in achievement between students from low-income families and students from high-income families. I am curious as to whether the smaller achievement gap in Norway is due to better teaching, the political philosophy of social democracy, or both. In my time outside of the classroom, I will be working to answer this question and collect interviews with teachers, students, and parents about the role of the school in their community and the services they feel help their students achieve.

*Administered under Austria’s Fulbright program.

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