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Profile on three more Fulbright winners

<ok at three more Carleton Fulbright winners:

Ari Keiner    

For her Fulbright program, Ari Keiner ’10 will be doing a teaching assistantship in Thailand. Although she doesn’t yet know which region of the country she will be assigned to, she already has experience with this country. She studied abroad in Thailand in the fall of 2008, and this summer has a grant from the Career Center to teach English to Thai elementary students for six weeks.

“I just really love Thailand,” Keiner said. “I’m really hoping to get fluent in Thai-my dream is to get fluent in Thai and stay on after the Fulbright to work for a human rights organization.” Keiner described her love of Thailand as the “Thailand bug” which has bitten her and other American students she knows who have studied abroad there.

“I literally cried,” she said when she found out she got the Fulbright. “Thailand is such a beautiful country…the people are so kind. I’m sure I’ve romanticized it, because it’s the first country I’ve visited independently so there is that connection.” Keiner still stays in touch with her host family and friends she met during her study abroad, and hopes to be placed in the Northeast of the country where they live so she can visit them easily.

Keiner has time to prepare for the program as it doesn’t start until October but she says that she’s “too excited to do anything now.” She hopes to start planning with her Thai contacts and to take a look at her old Thai language books.

Although she’s following the volatile political situation closely, Keiner doesn’t feel threatened by the political violence. Despite the Red Shirt protesters’damage to the tourist economy, she doesn’t feel that they will or want to hurt tourists themselves. “It’s ultimately a State Department decision” on whether the Fulbrighters can go to Thailand or not, “so I’m not worrying about it [because I have no control over it].”

Kelsey Ihinger

Kelsey Ihinger will be doing a teaching assistantship in Madrid for her Fulbright program. As a Spanish major, she has always been interested in Spain and has wanted to go back since she was there with Carleton’s Madrid program during the fall of 2008. “I thought this program would be the perfect opportunity to do so,” she said.
Ihinger is excited to go back to Madrid. “I enjoyed the city,” she said. “Madrid has the perfect balance of being comfortable and safe” while offering museums, restaurants, and many other diversion for visiting students. But it’s not all about entertainment – Spain also has an interesting history.

“It’s a unique history that is less studied than other European histories,” Ihinger said. The traces of Muslim rule that remain, combined with increased immigration from North Africa, are recreating the medieval the Catholic-Muslim struggle over Spanish identity. Ihinger finds this struggle “really interesting.”

Ihinger will be teaching at a secondary school, which is the equivalent to both middle and high school in the American system. “I would like to teach when I leave Spain,” she explained, and she wants to learn while she is there. She hopes to learn about teaching from her students, and to learn about the Spanish transition from the Franco dictatorship to the modern democracy from older people. Living in a foreign country is also a learning experience in itself, and Ihinger still has a lot to learn from Spain.

“There’s a lot to see in Spain – regions of Spain I haven’t seen before,” Ihinger said. She also hopes to travel to other countries in Europe, but would rather do international travel before or after the end of her program.
Speaking to people who want to enroll in the Fulbright program, Ihinger recommends choosing “something you’re passionate about, excited about.” The Fulbright program is “about enjoying what you’re doing”.

Dan Matthews 

For his scholarship, Dan Matthews ’10 will be working as a TA at a bilingual high school in Madrid. He looks forward to living in Madrid precisely because he doesn’t like it. “I hated it unjustly,” he said, because when he was previously in Spain he only knew the city as a stressful stop during trips. “I’ll be able to experience it without the emotional and literal baggage” and perhaps truly learn to appreciate the city.

“My ultimate goal has always been to try to work for a study abroad program,” Matthews said. Although he would prefer to work from the administrative side of things, his teaching assistantship will help him understand study abroad from the teaching side, helping him understand how these programs work on the ground.

Matthews is taking the Spanish “no se pasa nada” (don’t worry) approach to getting prepared. “I’m not really too worried about intense preparation,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable with the language, and I’ve been there before.” He was on the Carleton fall 2008 program in Spain and volunteered at the Cines del Sur film festival this summer, and thus is already familiar with southern Spain if not Madrid.

Matthews may volunteer again with the Cine del Sur film festival this summer. The festival is essentially a networking meeting, allowing moviemakers from Latin America and Africa to meet and show their work to producers from North America and Europe. Another opportunity Matthews hopes to take advantage of while in Madrid is to join a local running club. “The running culture is really different in Spain,” he said, and he did not join running clubs in his previous time there. Matthews also hopes to spend more time traveling to other countries during his stay in Spain to develop “more of a transnational perspective” and to visit high school friends and other Carleton Fulbrighters in Europe.

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