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2017 is another banner year for Fulbright and Bates

Why do so many Bates students and young alumni receive Fulbright U.S. Student awards?

Among the reasons are Bates’ robust Off-Campus Study program and, of course, the quality of Bates academics. But another reason lies outside the car window as you approach campus: Lewiston, known for a cultural diversity that’s surprising for the city’s size and location.

Story updated

Originally published in May 2017, this story has been updated to reflect additional Fulbright offers to Bates graduates. Fulbright offered 25 awards to current and former Bates students in 2017, and 23 awardees accepted the grants.

“The Fulbright mission is about young scholars taking the initiative for intercultural exchange in our global society,” says Robert Strong, who guides Bates students in applying for Fulbrights.

“The Bates experience, set in the international community of Lewiston, is an ideal incubator for such leaders.”

The numbers support Strong, the college’s director of national fellowships. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program this spring has offered 25 grants to Bates people for teaching and research abroad: 17 to graduating seniors and eight to young alumni. Twenty-three awardees accepted the grants.

The 23 who accepted Fulbright offers are bound for 18 destinations, as near as Newfoundland and as distant as Thailand. Twenty received English Teaching Assistant Awards; two were awarded Open Study/Research grants — and Kelsey McDermott ’17 of Boston was one of 10 scholars nationwide to receive a Fulbright Austria Combined Grant for Study, Research and Teaching Assistantship.

Bates is nationally recognized as a “Top Producer” of Fulbright Students. In February, the college achieved that designation for the sixth straight year, and was listed fifth in the U.S. with 13 Fulbright U.S. Student awards. This year’s Fulbright offers are the most ever, topping 2015’s 20 offers made to Bates students and alumni.

Meet the Fulbright U.S. Student recipients from Bates

View profiles and portraits of the seniors and young alumni who are have received offers from the Fulbright U.S. Student program.

The college’s strength in the Fulbright program was shown in a new way this year. For the first time, two prior Bates recipients were granted Senior ETA Awards, extending their Fulbright experiences abroad. Selected on the basis of leadership and communication skills, Nicole Bermudez ’16 and Lupe Vargas ’16 will be in charge of mentoring and supervising incoming Fulbright Students in Colombia next year.

Bates’ success in preparing Fulbright candidates is rooted in academic characteristics such as the college’s senior thesis experience. But other Bates distinctions speak directly to the Fulbright Program’s own goals.

Kate McNally ’17, who photographed the crew of a Grand Manan fishing boat during a research project in 2015, will continue that research in Newfoundland as a Fulbright Student. (Kate McNally ’17)

With three-quarters of students undertaking some sort of international experience during their Bates careers, the college’s “emphasis on study abroad helps cultivate the global stance that Fulbright seeks,” says Strong.

And then there’s Bates’ unusual dedication to community engagement. “Students graduate with a wealth of community-engaged learning experiences through the Harward Center for Community Partnerships,” Strong says.

“I can’t overemphasize how well the intercultural awareness and savvy that students develop in these partnerships positions them for success in international work.”

Robert Strong is the college’s director of graduate fellowships and a lecturer in English. (Sarah Crosby/Bates College)

Finally, Bates teaches students to teach — directly, through Harward Center programs and an education curriculum rich in field experiences, but indirectly too.

“The wealth of student leadership positions on campus, such as the peer writing and speaking tutors and the Bonner Leaders program, gives Bates students — whether they know it or not — great training as teachers and mentors,” says Strong.

He adds, “Their deep conversations with dedicated faculty mentors often serve as virtual seminars in complex professional communication and thinking.”

Fulbright U.S. Student Awards: Seniors

Katherine Berger ’17 of Newton, Mass., a psychology major and educational studies minor, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for the Netherlands.

At Bates, Berger was a peer writing tutor, was involved in a cappella, and conducted an honors thesis in psychology. She served as a community-engaged research assistant for the education department. In the Lewiston public schools, she served as a literacy teaching assistant, a special ed tutor, and a SAT math tutor and college mentor. In 2015, she was a teaching intern in English for Heathfield Community School in Taunton, U.K.

In 2016, Berger received a grant to teach English language learners in a daily summer class for Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services in Lewiston. That work, she says, taught her “the importance of curating a classroom where students not only see themselves reflected in a seemingly foreign English language curriculum, but also are encouraged to see learning as continual and reciprocal.”

“In the Netherlands, I will work to create a program that will engage students, their parents, local adults, and, if possible, immigrants and refugees, in my new community by developing a structured, conversation-based English language club,” Berger says. “This will continue the teaching I’ve done with local immigrant refugee adults in Maine.”

Berger lived for four months in a study abroad program in Denmark, the Danish Institute for Study Abroad, where she studied positive psychology and Scandinavian education. Whenever possible, “I visited other countries to gain a culturally specific understanding of daily living,” Berger says.

“What draws me to the Netherlands is the opportunity to learn more about their rich cultural traditions, including gezelligheid, or ‘warm coziness,’ biking, and their modern cuisine and design — to name a few,” she notes. “I also want to explore how such a high-functioning, cooperative state with thoughtful infrastructure and resources could serve as a model for what is possible in the world.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Berger plans to apply to graduate school and hopes ultimately to teach ELL pedagogy to aspiring educators.

Katherine Berger ’17, a psychology major from Newton, Mass., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for the Netherlands. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Claire Brown ’17 of New York City, a politics major at Bates, received an English Teaching Assistant award for Brazil.

At Bates, Brown served as a peer writing tutor, taking student writers beyond the mechanics of writing to help them find their voices and explore the development of arguments in their work. In 2016, while studying at the University of Edinburgh, she worked with Scottish students on weekly community projects in an environmental service group.

Brown interned at the Maine District Court in Lewiston starting with her first year at Bates, and in her senior year leveraged that experience to do honors-thesis research on Maine’s Adult Drug Treatment Courts. She also interned for U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine.

As a teaching assistant in Brazil, Brown “will apply the approach I developed as a tutor and judicial intern to my teaching strategy, balancing direct language instruction with hands-off, nudge-and-steer guidance. This approach has proven effective in reaching students from varying pedagogical traditions. I will also remain flexible and adjust my teaching style based on student feedback, body language and other cultural cues.”

She adds, “Often the most valuable teaching moments occur once I get students talking and they begin to steer the sessions in ways that enable them to learn the most. I am as much committed to empowering students’ voices as I am to imparting knowledge.”

“I love to teach and connect with students,” Brown says.

Since graduation, Brown has worked as a project assistant at the law firm Sidley Austin, in New York City. She plans to earn a law degree after her Fulbright year.

“As an attorney,” she says, “I would aim to work with a diverse group of clients, assisting them in protecting their rights and in obtaining resources, such as mental health services and drug addiction treatment.”

Claire Brown ’17, shown at her desk in the Lewiston District Courthouse in 2015, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Brazil. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

Yarisamar Cortez ’17 of Highwood, Ill., a double major in environmental studies and Latin American studies, received an English Teaching Assistant award for Brazil.

Raised in Mexico and in the U.S., Cortez recognizes “the value of having a compassionate teacher, guiding students as they navigate multiple languages. As an ETA, I want to be in an inclusive learning environment where a cross-cultural perspective is imperative. ”

In middle school, Cortez was accepted into the Schuler Scholar Program, which provides educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. That program afforded her “enormous academic support, culminating in my acceptance to Bates,” Cortez says.

“I was consumed by the opportunities Schuler presented, such as academic guidance, private math and reading tutoring, and cultural exposure. The excitement that lay ahead triumphed over any fears.”

As a Bates student, Cortez worked with fellow students as a peer writing tutor. She taught English Language Learners in a variety of settings, including a Lewiston Middle School afterschool program for at-risk students and the nonprofit educational program Uniendo Caminos during study abroad in Argentina.

There, Cortez says, “I learned to allow myself to be a learner while being a leader in the classroom.” Her own experiences as an English learner have equipped her to help students feel more comfortable and capable.

In Brazil, she will support future English educators as they hone their abilities and prepare to “provide an enriched experience for their future students.” She says, “I’m excited to bring my language tutoring skills to Brazil to shape confident learners inside the classroom, and create lasting friendships in the community.”

Cortez plans to continue her travels after her Fulbright year while exploring a range of possibilities for her postgraduate education and career.

Yarisamar Cortez ’17 of Highwood, Ill., a double major in environmental studies and Latin American studies, received an English Teaching Assistant award for Brazil.

Gregory Fitzgerald ’17, a double major in German and mathematics from Underhill, Vt., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Germany.

Fitzgerald, well-versed in the German language, has spent nine months in Berlin, four in a Bates academic program and five in an IES Abroad program. During the Bates fall semester visit, he served as a research assistant for one of the faculty program leaders, helping to develop a cultural scavenger hunt as a way of learning about the city.

“I believe that learning mathematics and learning a foreign language are alike,” Fitzgerald says. “In both, students must constantly learn new terminology, ways of structuring their thinking, and how to implement new concepts in the context of what they already know.”

He continues, “As an ETA in Germany, I’ll bring teaching-specific communication skills that I have honed tutoring high schoolers and college students, as well as coaching tennis to students of all ages.” Based on practices that helped him become fluent during his previous visits, Fitzgerald will structure English-language opportunities for his students to play games, keep journals, and learn about American pop culture.

To immerse himself in his host community, Fitzgerald will volunteer at a refugee center or other community center, and will actively participate in local tennis, rock climbing, music, biking, or skateboarding.

Fitzgerald also studied in Poland, and visited Ireland and Spain for family vacations. “In Poland, I visited Gdansk and Auschwitz, two places with a history of German influence,” he says. “I learned much about shared German and Polish history, discovering how connected the cultures of Europe are.”

At Bates, Fitzgerald was a math tutor and a program developer for the Off-Campus Study office. He was a varsity tennis player and has volunteered as a tennis coach in his hometown.

Upon returning to the U.S., Fitzgerald will apply to graduate programs in mathematics or German. Ultimately, he intends to teach mathematics, English, German, or a combination of the three.

Gregory Fitzgerald ’17, a double major in German and mathematics from Underhill, Vt., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Germany. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Sofia Gnabasik ’17, a sociology and Spanish double major from River Forest, Ill., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Spain.

Gnabasik has extensive experience with teaching, leadership, and community engagement within and beyond the Bates context. At the college, she was a peer writing tutor and a participant in the Bonner Leader Program, as well as a creative programming director for the Multifaith Chaplaincy.

Through an education course, she served as a classroom assistant for a third-grade classroom at Longley School in Lewiston, and also developed a program to enhance female mentorship for girls at a local high school.

“As I have experienced time and time again, teaching and learning are reciprocal processes,” she says. “I am eager to approach ETA instruction with an open mind, and excited to facilitate lessons which allow me and the young people to be students in the same classroom.”

She hopes to lead structured youth groups “to provide students with welcoming spaces to discuss challenging topics including identity and political issues.”

Beyond her formal teaching responsibilities, Gnabasik says, “I’ll partner with local nonprofits in need of volunteers and facilitate opportunities for my students to become more involved in their local communities.”

Accomplished in Spanish, Gnabasik has spent a substantial amount of time in Central and South America and feels a deep connection to Latin culture. Specifically, she has studied in Chile and Nicaragua, each of which she visited for six months.

“In Nicaragua and Chile I lived in homestays and developed very close relationships with my host families, which allowed me to fully immerse myself in daily life and culture,” Gnabasik says.

Upon returning to the U.S., Gnabasik plans to pursue a career in community nonprofit work, focusing on youth mentoring. “I’m highly interested in the role that education plays in facilitating social and political change,” she says, “and I hope that living in Spain and engaging with Spanish students will reveal ways to incorporate English language instruction into my pursuits of social justice work.”

Sofia Gnabasik ’17, a sociology and Spanish double major from River Forest, Ill., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Spain. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Katharina Harling ’17, an English and rhetoric double major from Long Island City, N.Y., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Taiwan.

Among her achievements at Bates, Harling took part in a five-week redesign project program for a course on presidential campaign rhetoric, and, in an independent project, created a graphic novel as an extension of her yearlong honors thesis in English. Recognized for the strength of her writing skills, she worked as a writing and speaking tutor for Bates’ Academic Resource Commons, and as a researcher and teaching assistant for the rhetoric department.

Harling has found storytelling to be a powerful tool in her teaching repertoire. “From the elementary school to the college levels, the use of storytelling in teaching language and writing is immensely effective,” she says. “As an ETA I will cultivate curriculums and classroom environments that embrace this pedagogical practice to stimulate dialogue, motivate understanding, and form the personal connections that underpin successful education.”

Harling applied for an ETA in Taiwan in part to continue developing her skills with the Mandarin language. In addition to her classroom teaching, Harling says, “I’ll offer tutoring to community members, including students and adults, utilizing my extensive tutoring experience and further developing one-on-one relationships outside of the classroom.”

“I want to continue my engagement in and exploration of pedagogy, bringing my skills in curriculum design and tutoring, as well as my experience educating abroad, to the highly valued English language programs in Taiwanese schools.”

An avid climber, Harling finds outdoor activity a great way to engage with a community, at Bates and beyond. Abroad, she will look to the outdoors as a way to build community connections, including educational trips to national parks and getting involved with the developing climbing community in Taiwan.

After the completion of her Fulbright, Harling plans to pursue a career in outdoor journalism.

Katharina Harling ’17, an English and rhetoric double major from Long Island City, N.Y., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Taiwan. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Sadie James ’17, a double major in psychology and in women and gender studies, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Bulgaria.

James was raised on an organic farm in Avon, Maine, an experience that she credits with giving her a strong sense of responsibility. As an education minor at Bates, James taught both locally, in the Lewiston public schools, and internationally at a South African school, amassing some 325 hours of teaching experience.

“Compassion, individualized and personal attention, creativity, and putting myself in my students’ shoes are some of the critical lessons that have shaped me,” she says. “They are instilled in my teaching philosophy through the mentors and role models I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with.”

James was a standout on both the women’s outdoor track and Nordic skiing teams, competing in two NCAA national skiing championships and in 2017 becoming Bates’ first women’s Nordic competitor since 2003 to win an Eastern Intercollegiate Ski Association carnival race.

“In Bulgaria, I plan to engage in my current areas of interest such as exercise and community outreach while also seeking new opportunities,” James says. “I hope to get involved at an after-school program focused on physical activity, sports, or group play.”

James has visited France, Morocco, and Portugal, as well as South Africa, where she studied education and social change through an SIT Study Abroad program. “I was able to observe the impact that apartheid has had on the country,” she says — “specifically the education system and how the legacy of apartheid is still affecting schools today.”

As an ETA, James looks forward to “spending time individually with students and fostering small group work that welcomes conversation and collaboration. Those are ways I can provide an environment for my Bulgarian students to thrive academically and socially, while also building lasting relationships.”

After her Fulbright year, James plans to work in education, with graduate studies a possibility.

Sadie James ’17 of Avon, Maine, a double major in psychology and in women and gender studies, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Bulgaria. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Amy Katz ’17, an environmental studies major from Durango, Colo., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Laos.

Katz’s teaching experience at Bates included classroom time as an ELL assistant teacher at Lewiston High School and as an assistant fourth-grade teacher at Park Avenue Elementary School in Auburn, Maine. Supported by an Otis Fellowship from Bates, she also developed a K–12 curriculum for a local trail building and maintenance nonprofit.

Those experiences taught her “how lesson plans evolve from students’ interests and backgrounds, and that relating material to the students is often the best way to capture their attention,” Katz says. “I realized how important and relevant the students’ own knowledge could be in their education, and began to see teaching as a mutual learning process.”

Katz skied on the varsity Nordic team at Bates and was a member of an all-student committee that awards grants to community non-profits. During the winter semester of her junior year, she spent a semester in Tanzania studying, conducting research at a local university, and learning Kiswahili.

After her Fulbright year, Katz will explore career options in environmental work and education, as well as psychology, where she has a particular interest in the profession of mindfulness-based counseling.

Amy Katz ’17, an environmental studies major from Durango, Colo., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Laos. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Kelsey McDermott ’17 of Boston, a double major in art and visual culture and in German, received one of 10 Fulbright Austria fellowships that combine an English Teaching Assistant Award with support for independent research.

Based in Vienna, McDermott will research the role of the arts in Austria’s public education system. In partnership with the Albertina and Kunsthistorisches museums, her research will specifically explore the psycho-social benefits of art education and its positive impact on childhood development.

“In light of proposed budget cuts to the NEA, I find this research to be essential,” McDermott says. “As a country whose government has historically placed pre-eminent value on the visual arts, Austria will serve as an ideal model for my future work in art advocacy and education reform here in the United States.”

McDermott adds, “My role as an English Teaching Assistant will certainly complement my research as well. During my nine Fulbright months in Vienna, I hope to communicate to my students that art, like language, is a powerful tool capable of spanning cultural, racial, and linguistic barriers.”

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, McDermott was a peer writing tutor, German tutor, and curatorial intern in the college Museum of Art during her Bates career. She also was the starting goalie for the Bates women’s ice hockey club, serving as co-captain her senior year. In the greater community, McDermott was an assistant ELL teacher at Lewiston High School, as well as a volunteer at the Tree Street Youth Center.

Upon returning to the U.S., McDermott intends to study art history and museum studies at the graduate level and pursue a career in museum education.

Kelsey McDermott ’17 of Boston, a double major in art and visual culture and in German, received a Fulbright Austria grant that combines an English Teaching Assistant Award with support for independent research. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Katherine McNally ’17, an anthropology major from Deep River, Conn., received a Fulbright Open Study/Research award to support a fisheries-research project in Newfoundland. The award, McNally says, “will allow me to study what works and what doesn’t in communities that have tried to establish fisheries co-management initiatives — arrangements in which multiple stakeholders participate in the management of a fishery.”

Her research, she continues, “will be rooted in anthropological theory and ethnographic methods, but also represented on platforms designed to foster community involvement.” An interactive webpage will serve as a repository for her research assets and findings, and a printed version of that same material will be presented to participating communities at the conclusion of her grant year.

McNally stresses the importance of accessibility to her work. “Publically accessible conversations keep research in dialogue with, and aided by, those affected by its findings.”

The project builds on McNally’s previous independent research in fishing communities: on Grand Manan Island, where she undertook an oral history project in 2015, and in Scotland’s Shetland Islands in 2016, where her research informed her honors thesis in anthropology. McNally’s Grand Manan project was supported by a Bates Otis Fellowship, and the Shetland project by a Phillips Fellowship.

Reade Davis, a maritime anthropologist at Memorial University, Newfoundland, will serve as McNally’s in-country project affiliation.

At Bates, McNally worked as an ocean governance researcher for the politics department, as a social media publication manager for the anthropology department, and as a manager and peer writing and speaking tutor for the Academic Resource Commons. She volunteered for community programs including an English language program for immigrants at the Adult Learning Center in Lewiston.

Upon returning to the U.S., McNally will apply for doctorate programs in anthropology and will continue to study fisheries. “This project is increasingly important, and representative, in an age of global climate change, which raises the ecological stakes for small resource-dependent communities and simultaneously diminishes their political power,” McNally says.

“It’s my goal to become a professor of anthropology in order to continue to contribute to and promote the well-being of fishing communities.”

Katherine McNally ’17, an anthropology major from Deep River, Conn., received a Fulbright Study/Research award to support a fisheries-research project in Newfoundland. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Denali Nalamalapu ’17 of Falmouth, Maine, an English major with concentrations in philosophy and political inequity, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Malaysia.

She served as a Bates writing and speaking tutor, and a volunteer tutor at the Lewiston Adult Education Center. At Bates, Nalamalapu also worked as an anthropology teaching assistant, a diversity outreach coordinator, and a Multifaith Chaplaincy Fellow, in which role she oversaw {Pause}, a weekly series of arts-based gatherings that promote personal reflection.

“As a Multifaith Chaplaincy fellow and a student of many religions, I feel drawn to teach in Malaysia due to its distinctive religious diversity,” Nalamalapu says. “I feel certain that it is a place in which I can both teach and be taught in a unique and immersive way.”

She adds, “My parents, having moved from India in pursuit of a better life for their young family, spent much of my childhood mastering the language and culture of the United States. Through them, I experienced the struggles and triumphs of this journey.

“I hope to bring to the students that I’m teaching a small part of the educational opportunity my parents, friends, and I gained from learning the English language.”

Nalamalapu has interned, taught, and studied in Costa Rica, Serbia, the Czech Republic, and Nepal, and has traveled to India many times. Her international ventures have been enlightening as she has studied, and experienced, the unequal treatment of racial minorities.

Visits to India and Nepal “have taught me about my unique position as a young American-born, English-speaking woman of Indian heritage,” Nalamalapu explains. “My presence highlights assumptions about how different people are treated due to their national and educational backgrounds, as the simple fact that I live in America and speak English awards me with immediate respect.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Nalamalapu will continue to explore her interests in education and in English literature in graduate school. “An international perspective will influence my career as I strive to be a part of the constant drive to transform the world,” she says.

Denali Nalamalapu ’17 of Falmouth, Maine, an English major, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Malaysia. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

William Nelson ’17, an English major and German minor from Bay View, Mich., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Germany.

Over his four years at Bates, Nelson worked as a research assistant in the English department and a teaching assistant in an ELL program at Lewiston Middle School. While helping ELL students come to grips with challenging literature, Nelson gained fresh insight into the barriers that language-learners face. “I’ll surely apply this understanding with my students, making sure to keep confidence high when engaging with difficult texts and ideas.”

A member of the rowing team at Bates, Nelson plans to include athletics in his Fulbright year. In Germany, “I’ll integrate my athleticism into my engagement with the local culture,” he says. “I will use my rowing experience to contribute to a local athletic club, forming bonds with teammates and peers while fostering intercultural exchange.”

Nelson spent three months of 2015 in Germany, with visits to other European nations, through a Bates study-abroad program. It was formative sojourn: In one episode, Nelson recalls a last-minute decision to interview a guard at a historic monument to complete a research assignment.

“After a 15-minute conversation with the officer on duty, I had learned more than I thought I ever would from such a brief encounter,” he says. “It struck me that getting out of my comfort zone is something that students of English have to do every day, and such leaps of faith can yield the best learning opportunities.”

Nelson’s European experiences also gave him an understanding of the impact of the large refugee populations migrating into Western Europe. “Seeing temporary Red Cross shelters built next to the train stations in Salzburg and in Vienna illustrated the importance of intercultural exchange to empathizing with those who are in crisis,” Nelson says.

Upon returning to the U.S., Nelson plans to pursue a career in teaching at a school where he will also be able to coach rowing. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in English.

William Nelson ’17, an English major and German minor from Bay View, Mich., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Germany. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Angeline O’Donnell ’17 of Harwinton, Conn., a psychology major and education and geology minor, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Thailand.

Through Bates, O’Donnell has become well-acquainted with the Lewiston school district, having worked as an assistant teacher in Farwell, Montello, and Martel elementary schools and Lewiston Middle School. She amassed more than 200 hours of TA experience in Lewiston and 300 hours of lesson planning, co-teaching, and mentoring experience with elementary-age and adult English Language Learners while interning for Aurora Community Connection in Aurora, Colo.

“I’ll bring an understanding of the importance of acknowledging ability and establishing trust, especially when working with language barriers, to the ETA position in Thailand,” O’Donnell says, “and will use each day as both a learning and a teaching opportunity.”

Outside the classroom, O’Donnell adds, “I look forward to participating in language-rich activities that will support classroom learning. Songs, games, and physical activities rich with English language practice will support the strong work that classroom teachers and local leaders are already doing.”

Placing a high value on understanding other cultures, O’Donnell spent two Short Terms, Bates’ five-week spring semester, in Ethiopia and Malawi; and studied for a semester in New Zealand.

“In New Zealand, I chose to enroll in a course on the cultural history of the islands and spent most weekends hiking culturally significant mountains,” she explains. “In Malawi and Ethiopia, I also made sure to learn the basics of the languages of each country, since language shapes culture.”

As a Fulbright ETA, “I’ll carry what I learned about thinking on my feet and adjusting to new kinds of schooling to guide my behavior as a United States ambassador in Thailand,” she says.

After her Fulbright experience, as she plans to continue working in education at the international level, O’Donnell hopes to earn a master’s degree in elementary education. She is also looking at graduate programs in international education development to support her interest in teaching internationally.

Angeline O’Donnell ’17, a psychology major from Harwinton, Conn., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Thailand. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Deshun Peoples ’17 of Chicago, a double major in studio art and rhetoric and a minor in Chinese, received a Fulbright Open Study/Research Award for a project in Jingdezhen, China. Peoples, the first Bates student to receive a Study/Research Award in the arts, will study at the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute.

“For me, as a student of ceramics and Chinese, Jingdezhen is ideal to do research and make art in,” says Peoples. “Jingdezhen has a rich ceramic legacy that includes the intricate Song dynasty functional Ding ware, as well as the Ming and Qing dynasty porcelain meiping bottles that reflect the elegance and complexity of China’s cultural history.”

“These forms epitomize the sophistication and refinement I hope to achieve in my work,” he says. An accomplished ceramicist represented in the current senior exhibition at Bates, Peoples will work alongside ceramicists steeped in Jingdezhen’s long porcelain tradition. He’ll focus his daily studio practice on specific techniques such as shallow-relief surface carving and cobalt calligraphy painting.

An advanced speaker of Mandarin, Peoples visited China for a high school exchange and again for a seven-week ceramics program in Jingdezhen. Yet, he says, he has barely settled into Chinese culture. “Interacting with this community for an extended period of time allows me to do something that I couldn’t do in a short two-month stay: establish a sense of community with the artists who work there.

“Learning to appreciate the nuances in experience and mindset of people from different cultures will help me become more global-minded as I navigate a culturally complex world throughout my career as an artist and educator.”

At Bates, he worked as a studio assistant and as a LGBTQIA+ peer mentor. Awards he received include a 2016 Purposeful Work Career Exploration Fellowship for a summer placement with installation artist Theaster Gates.

Peoples will take an intensive language study program in China prior to his 10-month Fulbright experience. After his Fulbright experience, he’ll take the MFA program in ceramics at the School of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania State University.

Deshun Peoples ’17 of Chicago, a double major in studio art and rhetoric, received a Fulbright Open Study/Research Award for a project in China. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Anna Sucsy ’17 of Keystone Heights, Fla., a double major in sociology and in French and francophone studies, received an English Teaching Assistantship for Senegal.

Sucsy, an education minor, will bring to Senegal considerable experience in teaching at multiple levels and across cultural differences. In Lewiston, she was a teaching assistant at Farwell Elementary School and at Montello Elementary School, where she also taught summer school and taught French in an extended school day program. She has taught French at an independent school and taught English in Ethiopia, France, and Turkey.

In Ethiopia, Sucsy taught English and mathematics to Somali refugees as part of a Bates education course focusing on English Language Learning practices. In France, she took a politics course at the University of Paris and volunteered at a Catholic middle school. She has visited Turkey twice, first as an exchange student living with a host family and then working for that family as a tutor.

“In each of these experiences, I formed close connections with people from different cultures,” she explains. “Working in different classrooms has taught me the importance of carefully listening to students and expressing interest in students’ lives.

“In Senegal, I’ll form strong relationships within my new community and with my students to enable them to reach their academic potential.”

She adds, “I look forward to being involved in local events such as soccer games. I also hope to take part in language exchanges, assisting community members with English while improving my French and Wolof skills.”

Sucsy has been a member of the Bonner Leader program at the Harward Center for Community Partnerships since her first year at Bates, and received a Harward Center Community Work-Study Fellowship for a summer service project in 2015.

Upon returning to the U.S., Sucsy plans to work as an elementary school teacher and ultimately become a school administrator. “Gaining an international perspective and experience working with different cultures will teach me skills I can use when working with diverse student populations,” she says.

Anna Sucsy ’17, a double major in sociology and in French and francophone studies from Keystone Heights, Fla., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Senegal. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Julia Yankelowitz ’17 of the Bronx, N.Y., a sociology major and education minor, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Uruguay.

With an advanced background in Spanish, Yankelowitz previously visited Uruguay for a brief stay in 2015. She has studied in South Africa and in Argentina, where she served as a teaching assistant for fifth- and sixth-grade English language classrooms.

Through her education minor, Yankelowitz spent many hours in local classrooms working with broadly diverse populations, including English Language Learners, children from varying socio-economic backgrounds, and children with special needs.

“My interest in being an ETA in Uruguay stems from the variety of placements it has to offer within an education system based on the principle of free thinking,” Yankelowitz says. “My experiences with diverse populations make me especially excited to work in both urban and suburban contexts and with students of varying ages and levels.”

During her time at Bates, Yankelowitz organized Special Olympics events hosted on campus, and assisted special education programs in local elementary schools. “As an ETA, I will pursue any opportunity to work with children with special needs,” she says.

A dancer at Bates, Yankelowitz hopes “to engage with both the urban and rural communities by partaking in traditional dances and more modern dance forms as part of my Fulbright experience.”

After her year abroad, Yankelowitz plans to study bilingual speech and language pathology at the graduate level. “I want to work with students with learning disabilities who are enrolled in English-speaking school systems and are being raised in Spanish-speaking households,” she says. “I’m interested in that crossover between English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities.”

She adds, “I want to empower children with learning differences by focusing on their strengths, and to expand the autonomy of their parents by supporting them through the special education process.”

Julia Yankelowitz ’17 of the Bronx, N.Y., a sociology major, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Uruguay. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Fulbright U.S. Student Awards: Young alumni

Elisabeth Baird ’14, a sociology major from West Chester, Pa., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Colombia.

In high school, Baird fell in love with the Spanish language and cultures, a passion that would inspire her to share the language through teaching. “I’ve grown immensely grateful for my own language education, and I’m committed to starting young language-learners on a positive note,” she says.

During high school and college, Baird studied in five Latin American nations, including Argentina, where as a Bates student she had an internship at a civil rights law firm. Also during her Bates years, Baird was involved in the local community as an assistant teacher for her education minor; a volunteer; and an organizer of student volunteers.

Deeply interested in food and food justice, Baird devoted her senior thesis to studying how storytelling and food at a downtown community garden can be used to create connections and foster communication between young people from different backgrounds. In Colombia, she plans to offer an English-language cooking club to foster connections and support language learning.

Since Bates, Baird has taught preschool and Spanish at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, Mass. She sees her Fulbright an opportunity for growth: “Working with college students in Colombia will allow me to explore my identity as a teacher in a new context while continuing to learn and follow my interests outside of the classroom.”

Baird’s Fulbright award comes months after Colombia’s Congress approved a peace accord designed to end a half-century of conflict with the country’s largest rebel group. “At this remarkable moment in Colombia’s history,” she says, “the mission of Fulbright to foster mutual understanding gains increased importance. I want to be part of Colombia’s efforts to bring people together and foster peace and education as a whole.”

After Colombia, Baird plans to return to teaching while pursuing an advanced degree in education. “The language classroom naturally fosters an environment where people begin to view cultural nuances as gifts and strengths, rather than barriers,” she says.

Elisabeth Baird ’14, a sociology major from West Chester, Pa., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Colombia.

Tara Das ’16 of Boston, a politics and French double major, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Morocco.

Born in Oregon, Das spent most of her childhood living abroad in Italy and Switzerland, and has advanced Italian and French language skills. Since graduating from Bates, she has worked as a curriculum writer for Bridge International Academies in Cambridge, Mass., and a volunteer with the African Bridge Network in Boston.

These positions continue a dedication to education that marked Das’ time at Bates, where she served as a French teaching assistant and English conversation teacher for the Adult Learning Center in Lewiston, Maine.

As a Bates student, Das studied in Rwanda and in Senegal, where she interned with a local NGO. “During these experiences I traveled to different regions and gained an understanding of the variety of cultural, religious, and political practices of the areas,” Das says. “I faced spontaneous situations that tested my resourcefulness and flexibility, which ultimately taught me to adapt and respond to diverse situations with ease.”

In 2016 she was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award for Turkey, but the program was canceled due to political conditions in Turkey. Dedicated to teaching and living in a Muslim country as a means of expanding her own cultural and linguistic scope, Das successfully reapplied to the Fulbright program again, for an ETA position in Morocco.

In addition to teaching English at the university level there, she hopes to join or establish a film club, and hopes to teach volunteer classes at a women’s center. “Teaching English amidst the country’s unique negotiation of Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Darija, and French will deepen my understanding of English teaching, the role of English in a multilingual society, and my own contribution and presence as an American,” Das says.

After her Fulbright year, Das seeks to pursue a master’s degree in international development and apply it to her career in international education development.

Tara Das ’16 of Boston, a politics and French double major, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Morocco. (Josh Kuckens/Bates College)

James Naso ’16, a biological chemistry major and Spanish minor from Greenbrae, Calif., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Colombia.

Since graduating from Bates, Naso has worked as a Spanish medical interpreter for Rota Care Clinic in San Rafael, Calif., and is currently a medical scribe for Augmedix in San Francisco and a high school math and science tutor in Greenbrae.

Naso grew up in California, whose ethnic diversity “afforded me various perspectives on life and exposed me to new traditions,” he explains. “From a young age, I took a special interest in the Spanish language and its potential to help me build deeper connections. I realized conversing in a foreign language is the optimal approach to understanding and interacting with people from different cultures.”

As a high school student, Naso undertook two-month summer sojourns in Paraguay and Honduras through the Amigos de las Americas program. In both countries, he lived with host families, taught English, and took on community youth projects.

As a Bates student with an interest in medicine dating back to his Amigos de las Americas experiences, Naso shadowed a cardiovascular surgeon in Spain during study abroad in fall 2014. He dedicated his two-semester Bates senior thesis to malaria research that he conducted at the University of California, San Francisco, over two summers.

Naso was a member of Bates’ nationally ranked varsity rowing team, serving as captain during senior year. He was also an outreach volunteer for the student-run Bobcat Consulting Group.

“As an ETA in Colombia, I will find common ground with my students in order to foster trust and to make learning more organic,” Naso says. In addition to teaching, he plans to volunteer in a healthcare facility and would also like to offer English and science tutoring in the community.

Upon returning to the U.S., Naso says, “I plan to study medical science with the ultimate objective of a degree specializing in infectious disease.” He adds, “The leadership and language skills I will develop through the Fulbright ETA will help me navigate my future academic experience, and will be of particular use when interacting with Spanish-speaking patients.”

James Naso ’16, a biological chemistry major from Greenbrae, Calif., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Colombia.

Kathryn Ortega ’16 of Houston, a religious studies major at Bates, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Brazil.

In light of ongoing reforms in the Brazilian educational system, “I want to become an ETA there because I want to have an impact on how future Latino English teachers work with students,” Ortega says.

Ortega was deaf until age 3, a condition that delayed her language acquisition, but also heightened her awareness of the language development process. “I made a lot of transitions early on, moving from deafness to sound, then Spanish to English,” she says. “I want to share my experiences of learning and teaching English to help Brazilian students not only understand English, but to also be effective with their own students.

“In this way, I can continue to improve my work with English learners, and one day use this information to influence policy changes in education.”

Ortega brings ample literacy-teaching skills to her Fulbright assistantship. Throughout her Bates career she served as a Book Buddy at a local school, reading to early-elementary-age children to help them develop vocabulary and an enthusiasm for reading. Her community-engaged work also included helping local students with homework in a Lewiston Public Library program.

In her senior year she traveled to Sri Lanka, where she taught English-language students at the University of Colombo. There she learned the value of making her curriculum relevant to students. “I enjoy coming up with icebreakers and ‘getting to know you’ activities not only because I learn more about my students’ lives,” she notes, “but also because I get to build community.”

In Brazil, she’ll use creative activities like writing or visual art to help students focus. “I want all my students to be creative teachers, so I am going to give them space to express and test out their own ideas.”

After her Fulbright year, Ortega plans to work for a multinational educational organization to broaden her understanding of educational needs around the world. She also hopes to undertake graduate studies in public policy.

Kathryn Ortega ’16 of Houston, a religious studies major at Bates, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Brazil.

Ellen Toll ’16 of Denver, a major in engineering through Bates’ dual-degree program with Dartmouth College, has received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Poland.

Toll graduated from Bates after three years with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, and will graduate from Dartmouth this spring with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.

At Dartmouth, Toll has been an engineering design fellow and a biomedical research assistant. At Bates, she was a math and statistics tutor. An artist, she was known at Bates for her ability to use imagery, including video, as well as words to explicate difficult concepts. Her 81-page senior thesis explored intersecting themes in German and mathematical history, and explained centuries-old math concepts for a contemporary readership.

Teaching English in Poland, Toll says, “I’d like to continue to develop visual methods to enhance student understanding of a foreign language, explaining grammatical concepts, difficult mathematical expressions, and vocabulary with unique images — engaging student learning in a way that’s both substantive and fun.”

Toll, who has also visited France and Italy, became intrigued by Poland through a side trip during a Bates fall semester program in Berlin. She’s excited to return because of Poland’s “captivating architecture, rich history, provoking museums, interesting people, and delicious pierogies.” She’s eager to shift from being a student in Poland to becoming a mentor for Polish students, and hopes to join or establish an art club to deepen her connection with the wider community.

“I’ve found that traveling has shifted my ideas about the country that I am visiting, those around it, and the U.S.,” she adds. “With each trip, I have gained a global perspective and an appreciation for the diversity of people, vibrancy of languages, and richness of cultures that exist throughout the world.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Toll will attend architectural graduate school. “I believe that my Fulbright experience will complicate and deepen my field of study, allowing me to create more thought-provoking and purposeful work.”

Ellen Toll ’16 of Denver, a major in engineering through Bates’ dual-degree program with Dartmouth College, has received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Poland.

Erica Van Sciver ’15, an English major who taught in Da Nang, Vietnam, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Spain.

Van Sciver has taught English professionally since graduating from Bates, most recently at Fisher’s SuperKids, a school in Da Nang. At Fisher’s, which Van Sciver describes as “one of my most meaningful teaching experiences thus far,” she learned the importance of basing what she teaches on the students’ own circumstances.

As a Fulbright teaching assistant, Van Sciver says, “I want to collaborate with lead teachers to generate lessons that are interactive and that students can relate to on a personal level. Team activities, small conversation groups, mock debates, journaling, language games, and presentations are all methods I’ve used.”

She adds, “I want to give my students the power to see themselves in others, to think and act with compassion, and to use language skills to promote greater understanding between people of different nations, cultures, and creeds. That’s the kind of teaching that has made a difference in my life.”

Honored for her own fiction writing at Bates, Van Sciver became fascinated with Spain through that nation’s literature and history. She hopes to organize book groups during her Fulbright year as a way of immersing herself in the local culture.

Erica Van Sciver ’15, an English major who has taught in Da Nang, Vietnam, received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Spain.

Grace Wright ’16, a mathematics major from Amherst, Mass., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Nepal.

Wright first visited Nepal for a study-abroad experience during her junior year at Bates, living with a family in Kathmandu for more than two months and spending a week in a rural village in Lower Mustang. She interviewed wives of migrant workers, a mothers’ group, and hospital nurses as a part of an independent research project involving support networks available to depression-prone populations.

“I applied for an ETA in Nepal because I value the homestay experience as an opportunity to really embrace Nepali culture and foster a strong relationship with a family,” Wright says. “Being held accountable to a family cemented my previous experience by making me independently form a commitment to a Nepali lifestyle.”

As an ETA in Nepal, she adds, “I’ll create small workshops for students to apply what they are learning in English, either through field trips or in role play in the classroom. Building language tasks into games and outdoor activities, such as soccer, hiking, or card games, is another way I hope to make English memorization tasks more natural.”

Wright has substantial experience as a teacher, coach, and mentor. She was an afterschool math tutor at Lewiston High School, led overnight outdoor adventure programs for entering Bates students, and has instructed in Nordic skiing and youth lacrosse. She was a senior captain of Bates’ Nordic skiing team and a two-year player for the lacrosse team.

“My experience as an athlete, captain of a group of teammates, and coach has taught me the importance of being open to feedback,” she says. “Teaching is not simply a one-way street, so I will encourage teachers to deliver feedback to me so I can best integrate into the Nepali classroom.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Wright will consider pursuing a master’s degree in education and will continue to work with English language learners.

Grace Wright ’16, a mathematics major from Amherst, Mass., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Nepal.

Fulbright offers not accepted

Two Bates people were offered Fulbright grants, but chose not to accept.

Gabriella O’Leary ’17, a double major in sociology and anthropology from Wynnewood, Pa., was offered an English Teaching Assistant Award for Thailand.

Samantha Thomas ’15, a history major from Westfield, Mass., received an English Teaching Assistant Award for Poland.