Bryn Mawr Seniors Awarded Fulbrights
Two Bryn Mawr seniors have been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships for 2006-07. Jodi Eisenberg, a major in comparative literature, will teach in Spain; Katherine Klenn, an English major with a minor in anthropology, will teach in South Korea.
For Eisenberg, who plans to go on to graduate school in comparative literature and has been accepted into her "dream program" at the University of California at San Diego, the Fulbright will fulfill a longstanding goal of studying in a Spanish-speaking country. She had planned to spend a semester of her junior year abroad in Cuba, but the exchange program to which she was accepted was canceled, and she ended up spending the semester in Scotland instead. During her time in Europe, she took a backpacking trip to Spain , and that experience helped her decide to apply to the Fulbright program.
"The teaching is a part-time job," she says, "so Fulbrighters are also encouraged to pursue research and other activities while they are abroad. One topic I might pursue in graduate school is the impact of language on national affiliation, so the proposal I sent to the Fulbright program contemplated research in areas where there are many speakers of regional languages. I've since learned that the Fulbright program in Spain has been restructured so that all of the Fulbright English teachers will be stationed in metropolitan Madrid, so I may have to choose a different research topic!"
Nevertheless, Eisenberg is happy with the Madrid placement. "There will be quite a few Fulbrighters all in the same geographic area, so I'm sure that will be a valuable support network," she says. "And the school system in which we'll be placed teaches many academic subjects in English. By the time students are in secondary school, where I'll be teaching, they already have a basic competency in English, so I won't be restricted to teaching English grammar — I'll probably be able to teach history and literature as well."
At Bryn Mawr, Eisenberg is writing a senior thesis about Chicana coming-of-age narratives and how they construe nationalism. Because she's enthusiastic about her major, she says, she has served as the comp-lit major representative to the curriculum committee and has worked for the Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature. She has served as a customs person (an older student who introduces incoming first-year students to life at Bryn Mawr and serves as a resource person and counselor) and on the committee that oversees Customs Week. This and her work as a peer tutor in Bryn Mawr's Writing Center have helped prepare her for teaching secondary students, she says.
Klenn, too, has extensive experience as a peer mentor at Bryn Mawr, helping fellow students with a range of issues from time management to effective study methods for exams. By contrast, she has no experience of Korea — which is part of the reason she chose the program there, she says.
"I have always been intensely interested in other cultures," she says. "That's why I'm an anthropology minor. I've never been to South Korea or anywhere else in Asia, and I want to learn about the customs and culture of a place that's unfamiliar to me."
Klenn, who has played the trombone with the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Orchestra and sung soprano in several vocal ensembles, is especially interested in learning about traditional Korean music. She hopes to be able to participate in a musical performance group as well as attending performances of all kinds and studying the differences between court music and folk music in Korea.
She hopes that the Fulbright year will help her clarify her career goals.
"Teaching English is one thing I'm considering," she says, "so it will be great to have this experience. But I'm also interested in a career in arts administration."
Last semester, Klenn worked as an intern at the Philadelphia Orchestra as an assistant to the director of media and public relations there. She worked with press clippings, developing a tracking system for them, and created a handbook for future interns. She also helped out with concerts, which allowed her to see many superb performances.
This semester, she turned the internship into a field-study project for a Praxis III course. Lecturer in English Ray Ricketts, "who has lots of connections in the Philadelphia nonprofit performing-arts world," Klenn says, helped her develop a syllabus and reading list as her faculty adviser. Ricketts is also supervising her senior thesis, a comparative study of Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible.
"I'm looking at how language is used in moments of power inequality, focusing on conversations about religious conversion," she says.
While she has never been to Korea , she has some friends at Bryn Mawr, including a member of her customs group and a first-year student who lives on her hall, who hail from there.
"I'll definitely be talking to them," she says. She also plans to get in touch with Carolyn Kay '05, who is a Fulbright teaching assistant in South Korea this year. "And I understand that the Fulbright network is very supportive," she says.
Klenn has lived abroad before: she studied at University College in London last year. The English university system, unlike Bryn Mawr's liberal-arts model, typically allows students to take courses in only one field, so "there was a lot of paperwork involved in studying both English and anthropology," Klenn says.
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