congratulations to fgs’ winter-spring 2016 scholarship recipients

Cynthia Banks Blog, News, Press Release, Student Scholars

6_Neida_HeadshotNeida Ahmad

Home University: University of Arizona
Major: Spanish & Psychology ‘17
Studying In: Alcalá de Henares, Spain

As a bilingual child, growing up in a Pakistani family, Neida aspires to create more inclusive learning environments for young bilingual and ESL students. Neida says, “I want to be able to change the way we look at bilingualism in education. It should be treated as the advantage and skill that it is, instead of a hindrance.” Of her time in Spain, Neida, says she is anxious to see how students are taught in an environment that does not cater to their native language, suggesting, “the knowledge I will gain from this experience will ultimately allow me to better assist those who feel that they are being neglected by the current educational system.”

2_Ashley_headshotAshley Etherton

Home University: Indiana Wesleyan University
Major: Exercise Science & Intercultural Studies ‘18
Studying In: Klaipėda, Lithuania

The combination of studies in exercise science (pre-physical therapy) and intercultural studies seems an unlikely pairing, but Ashley has every intention to meld the two with a career in the global humanitarian workforce. While she will take classes in both disciplines during her time in Lithuania, it is the opportunity to learn how to adapt and thrive in a foreign environment that she most looks forward to and believes will best prepare her for her future. Ashley says, “My ultimate dream is to live abroad, offering physical therapy to those who don’t have access to quality medical care. I desire to eventually work with disabled ‘outcasts’ in rural India, offering healing, strength, dignity, and hope.”

Timothy McNinch

Home University: Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Major: Religion ‘17
Studying In: Jerusalem, Israel

“The ultimate goal of language acquisition is not translation, but cognition and communication within the target language,” says Timothy. It is for this reason that he will be leaving the confines of an American classroom to study Hebrew in Israel. It is the full immersion in the language that Timothy looks forward to most, noting “Except for Skype calls home to my family, I will spend a full month speaking only Hebrew surrounded by street signs, billboards, TV shows, and eavesdropped café conversations in Hebrew.” This will fulfill a lifelong dream of his … not to decode a seemingly ‘dead’ language by American academic standards but to appreciate the beauty and culture of a language that has so pronouncedly shaped human history.

4_Elizabeth_HeadshotElizabeth Sloane

Home University: Temple University 
Major: English ‘18
Studying In: Rabat, Morocco

While a high school student, Elizabeth gazed onto Lebanon from a vantage point in Israel.  It was a transformative moment for her. She reflected on how the boundaries of national lines and cultures were nowhere to be seen on the Earth’s landscape, and moreover how cross cultural communication can bridge the gaps between borders and cultures, creating a landscape similar to that of nature. Of her time in Morocco, Elizabeth says her ultimate goal is cross cultural understanding. She suggests, “This awareness is essential to my professional goals of working in the Middle East or North Africa in the fields of education or food security, helping to strengthen communities through an understanding of how local cultures are impacted and can make an impact globally.”


3_Delaney_HeadshotDelaney Swink

Home University: University of Oregon 
Major: Romance Languages ‘17
Studying In: Rabat, Morocco

While in Morocco, Delaney will study human rights issues within the Muslim world and simultaneously improve her French and begin learning Arabic. She was drawn to the program because of its multiculturalism/human rights emphasis, its location in francophone Africa, and its research focus. Such things have piqued her interest since high school when she facilitated multicultural activities for a senior project and advanced human rights issues with Mercy Corps. Her time learning and researching in Morocco will significantly progress and enrich her academic development and professional preparedness for non-profit service. She fully anticipates the experience will “immeasurably impact [her] life.”


1_Adrian_HeadshotAdrián Villaseñor

Home University: University of Colorado 
Major: Japanese & Linguistics ‘17
Studying In: Kyoto, Japan

A Japanese language student, Adrián is “driven to bring the best of Japanese culture to the US (and vice-versa).” His passion ignited three years ago when he was first the recipient of Japanese hospitality. His host family selflessly sacrificed comfort and convenience to care for him. In the years since, he has worked to practice this same hospitality with exchange students in the Japanese Student Association as vice president; with middle school aged boys in his community as a volunteer; and with African communities as a member of a non-profit organization. This lesson in hospitality challenged him and prompted him to give back. Now Adrián seeks new and greater challenges from his return to Japan. For without the challenge, comfort settles in and entitlement finds a home, of which he says “is a recipe for bitterness and disappointment.”


5_Hunter_HeadshotHunter Zhao

Home University: University of Michigan 
Major: Evolutionary Anthropology ‘18
Studying In: Athens, Greece

A first generation college student from an immigrant family, Hunter describes the opportunity to study in Athens as surreal. Moreover, the program offers a chance to study irregular migration patterns firsthand, per the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. The semester will include travel to Lesvos, Greece (one of the center points of many refugee paths), which will be pivotal in preparing for his future career in immigration and refugee policy making. To interact with the refugees directly, “having a physical, tangible experience is unquestionably the best way to humanize migrants,” he says. Often at the ‘crossroads of cultures’ himself, Hunter’s own history, cultural identity, ethnicity, and social relationships have given him invaluable perspective.