Two Linfield seniors were awarded Fulbright Grants this year, making them the 21st and 22nd graduating Linfield students to receive the grant since 1999.
Craig Geffre was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to Thailand and Jade Severson received an English Teaching Assistantship to Germany. Severson was not available for an interview.
Geffre said he views this opportunity as an integral piece of his educational and work experiences.
“Traveling to different places and interacting with people firsthand can teach us a lot about different cultures and ourselves,” he said. “It can challenge our assumptions and teach us what it means to live in a multicultural world.”
Geffre said he would serve as a teaching assistant for elementary students and that his community project would involve assisting Buddhist monks in Thailand with their English.
“I plan to help [the monks] with their English so that they can teach about Buddhism and vipassana meditation to international visitors,” Geffre said. “95 percent of the population in Thailand is Buddhist, and Buddhism is an important aspect of Thai culture.”
Geffre said he attributed much of his motivation for applying for the grant to Professor Hillary Crane, assistant professor of anthropology.
“[She] gave me a tremendous amount of encouragement and support. Without her, I never would have even applied for a Fulbright grant,” he said.
He said a variety of experiences through Linfield have helped prepare him for his time in Thailand, including serving as a teaching assistant for an introduction cultural anthropology course and being the student orientation leader for incoming exchange students from a Japanese university during Fall 2010.
Geffre’s passion for teaching English abroad stems from his time studying in Hong Kong during his junior year, he said. He attributed his interest in Buddism to his thesis project.
“I became interested in Thailand after traveling there during my semester abroad and working with a Thai monk in Portland on my thesis on vipassana meditation,” he said.
Geffre said he is excited for his time in Thailand, but that he is trying to focus on learning Thai language during the four months before he leaves.
Geffre advises future Fulbright applicants to begin working on their applications during their junior year because the application and decision process are time consuming. He also recommends that students consult Debora Olsen, director of academic advising and instructor of history, as soon as possible.
“Finally, just be brave,” Geffre said. “It’s hard to step out into a new culture and part of the world, but I don’t think I’ve ever met a student who came to regret the experience.
Joanna Peterson/Managing editor
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