Four Whitman Alumni Win Prestigious Fulbright Fellowships

            WALLA WALLA, Wash.--  Three 2006 graduates and one 2005 Whitman alumnus have been awarded prestigious national Fulbright Scholarships and will scatter across the globe from Chile to West Africa this fall to conduct academic research and teach English as a foreign language.

             Elisabeth Carr, a 2005  magna cum laude graduate in foreign language and literature: Spanish, will serve as a teaching assistant in Chile for the next academic year; Amy Farris, a 2006 cum laude graduate in anthropology with honors, will conduct research in Senegal, West Africa; Rebecca Hartwell, a 2006 magna cum laude graduate in politics-environmental studies with honors, will teach in Malaysia; and Lindsay Satterlund, a 2006 cum laude graduate in German studies, will be a teaching assistant in Germany.

            Established by Congress in 1946, the Fulbright Student Program is considered the flagship of America’s educational exchange programs. Its goals encompass fostering mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries while simultaneously equipping students with the skills they will need to become leaders in an increasingly global environment.

             Carr, who has spent the last year interning as the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Sunset Magazine, said she intends to constantly write about her experiences as she teaches in Latin America, becomes immersed in the Chilean culture, travels throughout the country and studies the lives and works of Chilean writers such as Pablo Neruda, Isabel Allende and Gabriela Mistral. Carr’s cross-cultural experiences to date include working with international students as a writing tutor at Whitman, serving as a bilingual classroom aid in a Walla Walla elementary school and spending a semester as an international student in Spain. In her Fulbright application, Carr stated her desire to obtain a master’s degree in foreign language education and open a bilingual elementary/middle school for students of all ethnic and linguistic backgrounds “so that children of the United States will interactively experience multiculturalism at an early age.”

            Farris, of Bellingham, Wash., will conduct research in Senegal on “Cultural Begging: Senegalese perspectives toward Koranic daaras.” While studying abroad in 2004 Farris began a preliminary study into the practice of begging to finance Senegalese Koranic schools (daaras). Historically, students worked their teachers’ lands to pay for their religious education, but drought in the 1970s caused a mass migration to Senegal’s urban centers. Students now pay for their education by begging, and many Senegalese feel that the tradition of Koranic education has become secondary to the contemporary practice of begging. Farris plans to research the history of Islam and the development of the daaras in Senegal before looking into the current situation. “Through my project,” said Farris, “I hope to understand the Senegalese perspectives toward the new phenomenon of child begging as well as to collaborate with local efforts to develop alternatives.” She also hopes to pursue one of her personal interests by establishing a soccer league among the students of the local Koranic schools.     

             Hartwell, of Carnation, Wash., said that the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Terengganu, Malaysia, offers her a cultural exchange that correlates with her aspirations as a student, teacher and citizen. She participated in Whitman’s Semester in the West program and spent a semester in Sikkim, India, as a student at Naropa University. She also mentored a Mexican-American grade school student in Walla Walla and worked as a teacher and supervisor at a summer school for at-risk high school students. Hartwell, who plans to obtain a teaching degree when she returns from Malaysia, will pursue an independent study project while in Malaysia that she hopes will further involve her in the Terengganu community. Her study will look at how rituals, formal ceremonies as well as daily activities, allow people to identify themselves as part of a larger community. She plans to hire a private tutor to teach her Malay, so she can better communicate and interact with community members.

             Satterlund, of Burlington, Wash., will teach English as a foreign language in Germany, which will give her the opportunity to facilitate cross-cultural exchange by teaching English and American studies to German students who will in turn teach her more about their language and culture. A longtime student of the German language, Satterlund lived and studied for a semester in Freiburg, Germany, while a Whitman student. Her ability to speak to Germans in their native language, Satterlund said, will help her develop a deeper understanding of German culture. She said she hopes that as an English teacher she can help German students gain exposure to American culture and the English language and as a future German instructor in a U.S. high school, she can help students experience and appreciate Germany as she does. Her previous teaching experiences include volunteering as a high school student in a fourth grade classroom, and working during her college years as an America Reads tutor.

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CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College Communications, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu