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Three Awarded Fulbright Assistantships

Posted on Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Three students have been awarded prestigious 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Student Awards to support English Teaching Assistantships (ETA). Silene Binkerd-Dale '12, Molly Krifka '13 and Katherine Marino '13 were chosen from a highly selective process to represent the U.S. as ambassadors and English instructors for a yearlong assistantship. In addition to these awards, Devan Mizzoni '13 has been designated an alternate for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Germany.

Created in 1949, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. Government's flagship international exchange program. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and numerous nations around the world. Recipients are selected for their academic merit and leadership qualities, and will spend a year living, studying, teaching and conducting research abroad in effort to promote mutual understanding through intellectual freedom, academic integrity and openness.

"This year’s group of Fulbright students is remarkable for the varied and yet uniformly impressive ways they have taken full advantage of opportunities here at HWS, and even more so for how they have built on their experiences to take on ever higher levels of scholarship, leadership, and service,” explains Scott MacPhail, assistant director of health professions and fellowship advising.

Silene Binkerd-Dale has been granted an award for an ETA in Germany. She was first drawn to the German language at age 15, its intriguing and unique notes inspired her to begin her own studies - first watching German films and reading from instructional books, then taking lessons from a native speaker.

Binkerd-Dale is eager to continue the work she began while studying abroad in Tu¨bingen, Germany, and hopes to expand the world of the students she will instruct. Through her passion for language, Binkerd-Dale believes that she can "delve deeper into the unknown" and help others find their own passions.

With the grant, Binkerd-Dale will also study the social utility of language - how an accent or dialect can influence implications and expressions, how the role political situations and historic context can alter language, and whether being monolingual or bilingual can affect one's opportunities in the world.

"My interest in examining the social utility of language is what motivates my academic and professional life-goals," explains Binkerd-Dale. "The personal connections and adventures that go hand in hand with cross-cultural exploration are something I treasure in all aspects of my life and relationships."

At the Colleges, the idea of religion intrigued Binkerd-Dale, and it was her pursuit of spiritual studies that led her to a semester abroad in Germany. After taking lectures on the Reformation and comparative theology while in Tu¨bingen, her love of the language was reignited.

"I did not just interact, but truly connected with, people from very different parts of the world and saw how incredibly vital language is to this process," says Binkerd-Dale, who also spent a summer as part of Middlebury's intensive language-immersion program the Summer Language School. "We shared our cultures through language, and in this way we were able to share ourselves."

These lectures also served to solidify the growing connection between her studies of German and her theological and religious endeavors. "My interest in the German language serendipitously allowed me to study religion in a way not possible in the U.S. or the English language alone," she explains.

Binkerd-Dale earned her B.A. in religious studies from William Smith in 2012. She was the recipient of the Saiving/Heaton Religious Studies Prize, the Julius G. Blocker Fellowship, the Professor Norbert A. Bausch Prize, and the Heaton/Franks Award for Religious Studies.

Following her return to the U.S., Binkerd-Dale plans to continue to improve her German language skills, commence her study of French, and attend graduate school to study linguistics.

Molly Krifka will serve her Fulbright assistantship in Peru. In addition to focusing on teaching English, she will use the opportunity to continue work started while she was in Peru as a recipient of the Salisbury Summer International Internship Stipend.

"I respect the heritage behind Fulbright - the idea of a community of individuals who are passionate about involving themselves in different cultures," says Krifka. "It really fits my personal philosophy that to truly understand one's own culture you need to step outside of it. That, and the opportunity to represent my country in another country that I care about so much makes this such an exciting experience."

An ethnomusicology and Spanish and Hispanic studies double major, Krifka spent the summer of 2012 in Peru as an intern at El Instituto Taki, a museum and cultural outreach center in Cusco. She was responsible for producing a museographical guide that detailed the entire museum's collection. She also participated in the sikuri panpipe ensemble associated with Taki, rehearsing with them every week.

She will also use her time to continue her study of the Quechua language and the connection between gender, music, language and activism. She participated in the Colleges' semester in Ecuador in 2010 and applied for and received a Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship to further immerse herself in the study of music there. Krifka then spent six weeks in Peru in the spring of 2011 prior to returning as a Salisbury Scholar.

"I felt something awaken in me in Peru in terms of the music and the Quechua language," says Krifka, who is currently completing her Honors project on music and gender roles in Peru. For her research, she interviewed women who play instruments traditionally meant for men. Krifka also learned to play one of the instruments typically reserved for men in the culture.

Her love for Spanish and Hispanic language and culture formed when, as a senior in high school, she participated in two service trips to Nicaragua through a sister-city community service delegation.

On campus, Krifka is a lead teaching fellow, Spanish tutor and mentor for the Center for Teaching and Learning. She has served as a research assistant for Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies May Farnsworth and as a teaching assistant for the Spanish department. She is a member of the Colleges Chorale and a former member of the HWS Ultimate Frisbee team. She is a member of Hai Timiai and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Krifka has also volunteered as an America Reads tutor. A third-generation HWS student, Krifka's mother is Kathy E. Ford '80 and her grandfather is Robert E. Ford '54, GP'13. Her uncle, Theodore Ford '66, also attended Hobart.

She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either ethnomusicology or visual anthropology, with a focus in music.

Katherine Marino has been awarded an assistantship in Argentina. When Marino studied abroad in Mendoza, Argentina, she fell in love with the culture, the people - the country. Now, Marino, a double major in dance and environmental studies, will return to Argentina later this year to pursue a once in a lifetime teaching opportunity.

As a Fulbright winner, Marino will expand upon her scholarly interests in education to fully explore the opportunity of teaching English and possibly dance, while completely immersed in Agentine culture.

As part of her supplemental project in Argentina, Marino also hopes to leverage her HWS education, including her background teaching ballet, modern dance, and dance improvisation, in order to create a movement education program in a local community in Argentina through the Fulbright assistantship.

"I am so excited at the prospect of bringing my love of dance to Argentina. When I am not assisting in English classes, I hope to have the opportunity to teach dance classes within the local community," Marino says. "During my past experiences abroad I have always found that regardless of any cultural or language barriers, dancing together is an amazing way to connect with people, and it can be a great way to share one's cultures and make new friends."

Marino says her many experiences with dance education at HWS have helped prepare her to not only share her passion with others, but also to be a successful teacher.

"I am so thankful that I was able to attend HWS where I could take courses on everything from Spanish, to philosophy, to dance composition, to environmental law," Marino says. "Having the opportunity to take such a wide array of courses helped me understand how incredibly interconnected all these different subjects are and how important it is to understand these connections within my own life."

On campus, she has been a member of the LiberTango student dance club, Koshare Dance Collective, Campus Peer Ministry, Alternative Spring Break Program, and the Campus Activities Board. Off campus, she has worked at Penn Yan Academy as a dance teacher and the spring musical choreographer, as well as a substitute ballet teacher at the Hochstein School of Dance in Canandaigua, N.Y. This summer Marino will perform with the company Push Physical Theater, based in Rochester, N.Y.

Marino also is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and has been awarded a number of HWS honors, including the President's Civic Leadership Award and the Seeley Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. In summer 2012, she traveled to China to study sustainability and the environment.

Devan Mizzoni, an alternate for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Germany, is grateful for the chance to once again study in Germany, where she spent a semester abroad in Berlin.

"Participating in the teaching assistantship program will allow me to combine my passions for teaching and language learning," says Mizzoni, a public policy major.

A proponent of hands-on learning, Mizzoni hopes to use her immersive learning techniques with her students, which she believes will benefit students of all learning styles and skill levels. "Throughout my life I have strived to create opportunities for people to learn about others who may not be fully understood," explains Mizzoni. Having a younger brother diagnosed with Autism has meant a lifelong involvment in the special needs community. "I hope to become an ETA to promote mutual understanding and affection."

In her time on campus, Mizzoni has volunteered with America Reads as a tutor, and has served on the committee of the Symposium on Genocide and Human Rights. She is also an executive board member of the Human Rights Collective and a part of the International Students Association.

 


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