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Kathryn McEvoy–Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (Spain)

Name: Kathryn McEvoy

Class Year: 2019

Hometown: Middletown, MD

Major(s): Global Politics

Minors or Concentrations: Poverty and Human Capability Studies

Opportunity and Year: Fulbright Program for U.S. Students, 2019-20

Project Summary: I am going to be teaching English in Asturias, Spain. I am excited to take the experiences that I have had with ESL in the US to the classroom in Spain. I will use my time outside of the classroom to explore gender equality in Spain. Spain has a complex recent history with regard to gender equality, swearing in the first majority-female cabinet last June while still suffering challenges, like a significant gender pay gap. This makes it fascinating location to study the process of a successful gender equality movement. Through volunteerism at a local domestic violence shelter, I hope to learn more about these strengths and weaknesses while sharing my previous knowledge of working with domestic violence services in the United states. This project will serve as a foundation for me to become an advocate for gender equality in our globalizing world.

How did W&L prepare you for this opportunity? It is nearly impossible to recount the ways that Washington and Lee has shaped and prepared me for the Fulbright experience. Most importantly, my education here was never confined to the classroom. Tutoring for English for Speakers of Other Languages, I was given the opportunity to work with ESL learners weekly. Through classes at the local domestic violence shelter and in-home tutoring sessions, I became a part of the immigrant community in Rockbridge County and the students I worked with became a part of the community here at Washington and Lee. I witnessed the power of language learning to bridge cultural divides and was consistently inspired by the comfort with vulnerability and resilience demonstrated by my students. Through the Shepherd Program, I worked with immigrant victims of domestic violence at a nonprofit advocacy organization called Tapestri. Translating phone calls from clients and curating personal statements for immigration petitions, I had the opportunity to see through the eyes of people who did not take the United States’ strengths for granted or accept its weaknesses as an unchangeable status quo. They showed me how language learning and cultural exchange could illuminate complacency with injustice and promote efforts to transform the institutions which perpetuate that injustice. This is all to say, Washington and Lee brought to fruition a lot of the theories and ideas that I learned about in politics and poverty studies classes, showing me how to combine thought and discussion with action as well as driving my desire to understand communities beyond my own.

Why did you apply for this opportunity? I am going to be teaching in English in Spain, but my experience as an ESL teacher in the United States has shown me that I learn so much more from my students than I could ever teach them. The opportunity to be in the classroom in Spain will open the door for me to engage directly with my community there, which will not only improving my language skills but giving me a firsthand experience with the culture. ESOL at W&L gave me a glance into the lives of those in Lexington’s Spanish-Speaking community, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue the journey of language, learning, cultural discovery, and gender equality exploration that I have begun here.

 

Post-graduation Plans: After graduation, I have three months before I depart for Spain. During that time, I am going to study for and take the LSAT in preparation for my eventual return to law school. After I complete the Fulbright ETA year, I hope to work with a nonprofit in DC prior to going to law school. My end goal is to work in policy as it relates to international gender equality.

How will this opportunity help you achieve your goals? Living, teaching, and researching in Spain for a year will give me the opportunity to not only improve my Spanish-speaking ability but also to understand the tenants of a successful gender equality movement in a Spanish-speaking country. Furthermore, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of using language-learning to bridge cultural divides, which will prepare me well to serve as an international advocate for gender equality.

Extracurricular Involvement:

Co-President and Tutor for English for Speakers of Other Languages
Student Advisor for the Community Engagement and Service Learning Committee
SHECP Student Ambassdor
University Ambassador Tour Guide
Lead Class Agent
Greek Representative to the Office of Inclusion and Engagement

Off-campus Experience:

Summer Intern at Frederick County Courthouse Summer 2016
Summer Intern at Tapestri in Atlanta, Georgia Summer 2017
Summer Intern at Women’s Congressional Policy Institute Summer 2018

Research Experience:

I developed two survey instruments in collaboration with Project Horizon to assess the usefulness of its Latino outreach programming.

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