Cherish Deater, Holly Donahue win Fulbright Fellowships
Cherish Deater '00 grew up in a bilingual home where facility in more than a separate language with its own grammar and syntax."
Despite her early experiences, languages were not at the top of the list of things that Deater planned to study when she arrived at Kenyon. Her notion was that she would major in psychology. But, as so often happens, other classes captured her imagination-in her case, drawing and Italian. To Italian she added German and one language was taken for granted. Her mother, Karolyn, is an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for the deaf in their hometown of Utica, Michigan. While most people probably don't think of ASL when they hear "bilingual," it is, says Deater, "most definitely a separate language with its own grammar and syntax."
Despite her early experiences, languages were not at the top of the list of things that Deater planned to study when she arrived at Kenyon. Her notion was that she would major in psychology. But, as so often happens, other classes captured her imagination--in her case, drawing and Italian. To Italian she added German and Russian, so that by the end of her sophomore year, when she declared majors in studio art and modern foreign languages and literatures, she was well prepared for her junior year of study, which she chose to do in Vienna.
An out-of-date perception of study abroad is that it is a year of serious cultural learning but that it is academically lightweight. Deater's program, the Austria-Illinois Exchange Program, offered through the University of Illinois, is anything but fluff. "The program focused on language development, and all my classes were taught in German," says Deater. "I even took a Russian grammar course taught in German." She also took a figure-drawing course at the Viennese Art Institute.
When Deater returned to Kenyon for her senior year, she began to explore options for postgraduate study or experience. "I knew I wanted to go to graduate school," says Deater, "but I wasn't sure of my direction. I felt I should take a break for a year or so to figure that out. [Director of the Career Development Center] Maureen Tobin recommended both the Fulbright and the Watson fellowship programs, and I applied for both." Deater was awarded a one-year Fulbright teaching fellowship.
The U.S. Congress created the Fulbright Program in 1946, immediately after World War II, to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. Senator J. William Fulbright, sponsor of the legislation, saw it as a step toward building an alternative to armed conflict.
Today, the Fulbright program is the U.S. government's premier scholarship program, allowing six hundred Americans to study or conduct research in more than one hundred nations.
Deater will teach at two high schools in the city of Krems, Austria, about ninety minutes outside Vienna. One is a public high school and the other a private school for girls. "I'll be teaching conversational English in both schools, and the students will receive their grammar instruction from another teacher," explains Deater. "My position will be similar to the native speakers who assist with language classes at Kenyon."
Although Deater has taken the Graduate Record Examination in preparation for graduate-school application, she still awaits inspiration about what she will study after her Fulbright year.
Holly Donahue '00 received her Fulbright grant for a year of academic study in India, where she also spent the fall semester of her junior year. A religious studies major from Brockway, Pennsylvania, Donahue chose the Antioch Buddhist Studies Program because of the strong support system it offered students. "I had never even been on an airplane before, and I was scared out of my mind about just picking up and going to Asia," Donahue recalls. Based in Bodhgaya in the state of Bihar, she studied various forms of Buddhist philosophy and practice while learning Hindi. The program requires an independent-study project, for which Donahue chose Buddhism and its impact on forest conservation in Thailand. "I spent three weeks in Thailand, and for most of that time I was by myself," she says. "I went through an interesting kind of culture shock, where I found myself missing the familiarity of life in India."
The religious studies major at Kenyon encompasses anthropology, history, and literature, which Donahue says pulled her many interests together in a way that seemed particularly well suited to her. Her study abroad focused her intellectually on South Asian culture, history, and language, as well as other religions in addition to Buddhism.
Donahue will be spending her time this year in Lucknow, which is near the Nepal border. She will study the way people regard the period of time (roughly 1750 to 1850) when Muslims ruled Lucknow and there was a flowering of Muslim culture. "Given the political climate of India today," says Donahue, "it will be interesting to see how people think about that period of their history. There are groups of people in India who think that India should only be for Hindus."
Like Deater, Donahue expects to attend graduate school, but she wants to refine her scholarly interests further before making the important decision of what to study and where to study it.
Siiri Morley, an international studies major from Sheffield, Massachusetts, was named an alternate by the Fulbright committee. She would only get to enroll in a Tibetan language program at Tibet University in Lhasa if someone opted out of the Fulbright program. She proposed to learn the Tibetan language while studying the influence of Lhasa's expanding handicraft markets for tourists, both within and outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Morley had impressive credentials for her undertaking. She began studying Chinese in her first year of high school, and she spent her junior year of high school in China. She returned to China in the fall of her junior year at Kenyon. Her odyssey that year was of near epic proportions. Beginning as an assistant leader with a summer program for high-school students, she spent six weeks in Pakistan and China. She then traveled independently in China for a month before taking up her official studies.
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