Senior Monica Weller will have a chance to return to Mongolia,when she travels there as a Fulbright scholar to be an English Teaching Assistant after graduating from Knox.
The last time Weller was in Mongolia was during a summer in high school, when she traveled to Ulaanbaatar through a sister cities program the city called U.B., the capital of Mongolia, has with Denver, CO. Her host family there lived in a less developed part of town.
“We didn’t have access to drinking water, but we did have electricity in a little three-room house that we had on unpaved roads, this is the host family that I stayed with,” Weller said.
She is excited to go back to a country whose landscape she said reminds her of parts of Colorado, just with much older and more eroded mountains.
Teaching English gives Weller a chance to continue something she has been doing, mostly informally, for a while now. It will also give her a chance to interact with the U.S. Foreign Service, where she thinks she may seek a career after graduate school.
“I know that I’ll probably not be prepared for any of it, but I’m looking forward to it,” Weller said.
Senior Nicholas Nurre also has a Fulbright position for next year. He will be in Macau, a former Portuguese colony that is now part of China. Unlike Weller, Nurre has never been to his location, but that was part of the appeal.
“I really wanted to get the sense of really being immersed in a different culture and that’s something I felt was missing from my original study abroad experience [in the U.K.] …” Nurre said. “In terms of race and culture I would say, it wasn’t as much of a culture shock as someone who might have gone to an East Asian country.”
Nurre said he first learned of the program last summer doing summer research with the Vovis Center and that he originally saw it as a chance to gain experience that could help him with getting into graduate school or academic jobs. As his plans changed however, he started to focus less on graduate school and more on the non-resume benefits the program could give him.
“I learned more about how the point of the program is to foster this international understanding. It’s not just about the actual teaching of the English language as much as being a cultural ambassador,” he said.
Nurre is not the only senior who hopes to use his experiences next year to better their understanding of other cultures and to be able to bring that back to the U.S. Senior Kayti Everette will be attending the National University of Ireland Galway to get an M.A. in Culture and Colonialism, which she hopes to bring back and apply to the U.S. education system.
“I think I want to do more in the United states and working with immigrant populations because English language learners – those are students I’m really passionate about,” Everette said.
Like Weller, Everette has been to Ireland before and is excited to go back. The program also seems excited to have her, as she did not actually end up submitting a personal statement with her application, but received an email from the head of the department saying how much they liked her writing samples and accepting her into the program.
“I had submitted some work from a class I had had with William Hope here about narco culture in border towns in Mexico and about narco-corrido music, … and they were like, ‘that’s so interesting!’” she said.
Across the Irish Sea from Everette, senior Lindsey Scott will be studying a master’s course in Agroecology and Food and Water Sovereignty at Coventry University in England. Scott said that the program is one of only three agroecology programs in the world.
“Agroecology is a really new field, it’s a branch of environmental science. It’s basically how do we feed a growing population using farming practices that have been used for years and years and bringing in new technology to grow food. So it’s going away from monoculture,” she said.
Scott is following her older sister in going to graduate school in Europe. She has traveled widely and looks forward to the chance to do some more, as well as the cheaper cost of the program. The program also only lasts one calendar year, so Scott hopes she can return to the U.S. and become a certified German translator.
“Eventually, I’d like to have my own farm. I’d like to work for a while in food justice in the United States in inner city areas – nutritious food, everyone having healthy food, access, combating food deserts,” she said.
Her education in one of the few agroecology programs will help prepare her for both roles.