Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Whitworth alumni and faculty emeritus explore the world as Fulbright scholars


One year after being named a top producer of Fulbright students, Whitworth has produced three more Fulbright scholars for the 2012-13 academic year. Siri Carlson, ’12, is currently teaching in Thailand, Marylee Keller, ’12, is teaching in Germany, and Professor Emeritus of Theatre Rick Hornor, ’70, will begin teaching in Lithuania next month.
Siri Carlson

Carlson is currently a Fulbright English-teaching assistant at Warinchamrap School, in northeastern Thailand. She teaches grades 7-12 and helps teach Thai traditional dance. She also assists at English-language camps and competitions throughout the region.

“I wanted to see new things, experience a drastically different culture and continue to see how I fit into this gigantic world,” says Carlson.  “Also, I love kids. They make me laugh every single day without fail.”

Carlson enjoys interacting with the Thai culture as well as sharing American culture and ideas to the Thai locals. She admits that she is just as much a student as those she teaches.

“I am beyond privileged to come in the name of peace and of fostering mutual understanding,” she says. “I truly get to become a part of the community here, and I think that is a very beautiful thing.”

After her time in Thailand, Carlson plans to continue working in education with low-income populations. She encourages current college students to embrace spontaneity and travel outside of their own culture.

Marylee Keller
Keller is an English-teaching assistant at the Grundschule Niederlobnitz, an elementary school in Dresden, Germany. She admits that living in Germany has been an adjustment, but she has been welcomed and blessed by the community there.

“Life is a daily lesson, and the learning curve is steep,” says Keller, “but I know that I will never forget this year of my life, or the new skills that I am gaining.”

Keller is surrounded by other Fulbright scholars in Germany, and she speculates on what brings them all to this point.

“We attended different universities, studied different subjects, and claim different cities as our hometowns,” she says. “But being here boils down to our own unique experiences. In the end, there are no ‘certain’ qualifications for a Fulbright award. It is more important that one is able to connect to his or her past experiences and adapt for the future.”

After her time in Germany, Keller plans to move back to the United States and return to school to study either law or foreign policy.

Rick Hornor
From January to June, Hornor will teach Story Theatre, Acting and Improvisational Acting at LCC University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. He also will hold a series of workshops for staff from the LCC admissions office on how to attract future students to campus.

“Most important, however, is that being a Fulbright scholar means I am able to spend a semester at LCC University helping the school develop a concentration in the arts and assisting them in developing programs that will get the community onto campus and get students into the community,” says Hornor, who served as faculty director of service-learning at Whitworth for many years, in addition to his teaching and directing duties.

Hornor has extensive experience teaching abroad. His most recent venture was teaching at a university in Kenya, in 2007. Once he returns from Lithuania, he will continue enjoying his retirement alongside his wife, children and grandchildren.

John C. Yoder, professor of political science and the previous Whitworth Fulbright advisor, guided many students through the application process and is pleased with the students’ and faculty members’ Fulbright success.

“Because Fulbright is one of the most competitive and prestigious fellowships in the world, the fact that three people from Whitworth have been named Fulbright scholars is a great compliment to the quality of our university,” Yoder says. “Whitworth students and faculty have consistently won Fulbrights year after year, far more than most schools our size. This demonstrates the depth and breadth of that quality.”

Yoder encourages students in every academic area to consider applying now for Fulbright scholarships. Megan Hershey, assistant professor of political science, will be taking over this year as the Whitworth Fulbright advisor. Hershey is the recipient of a Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship for her work on NGOs addressing HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

Carlson and Keller’s Fulbright scholarships are part of the English Teaching Assistantships Program, an element of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program that places American students as English-teaching assistants in schools overseas, thus improving foreign students' English-language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing the Fulbright students' language skills and knowledge of their host countries.

In 2009 and 2011, Whitworth was named a top producer of Fulbright students among other master’s-level universities nationwide. Since 2000, 17 Whitworth students have been selected as Fulbright scholars: Carlson and Keller, ’12; Corey Dugan, Angie Hartley, James Mitsuyasu and Katie Williams, all ’11; Gillian Goodrich and Blair Daly, both ’10; Kendra Hamilton and Amy Whisenand, both ’09; Beth Carlson, ’08; Lindsey Kiehn and Leah Silvieus, both ’07; Laura Thaut, ’05; Carla DePriest, ’04; Kelly Siebe, ’03; and Alissa Johnson, ’01.

In addition to Hornor, faculty members who have received Fulbright fellowships in recent years include Professor of Economics Richard Schatz, in 2007; Professor of Art Gordon Wilson, in 2003; and Professor of Political Science John C. Yoder, in 2001.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, America's international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more than 60 years, the bureau has funded and supported programs that promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Since its establishment in 1946, under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright, of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has provided opportunities for approximately 318,000 people from the United States and from countries around the world to observe each other’s political, economic, educational and cultural institutions; to exchange ideas; and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world's inhabitants. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Contacts: 

John C. Yoder, Fulbright advisor and professor of political science, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4432 or johnyoder@whitworth.edu.

Andrea Idso, interim public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or aidso@whitworth.edu.