This year I'm serving as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Mérida, México. In partnership with the Yucatán State Office of Education, I give classes to primary school teachers to improve their English levels. The course material ranges from basic grammar to Hemingway, from pronouncing the word "talked" to idioms like "foaming at the mouth." I also give workshops on low-resource activities that will supplement state-given textbooks, which are often out of touch with the real ESL classroom.
I would never have applied for a Fulbright Grant had it not been for the support and encouragement of Professor Dan Hartnett. Not only did he present the scholarship as a real possibility for me, but he also walked me through every step of the process—from editing my application essays to calming my nerves at actually getting the Fulbright. The application process is rigorous—at one point I had a Skype interview in my kitchen with eight Mexican officials and a member of the US State Department—but Professor Hartnett was an invaluable resource for seven long months.
The Department of Modern Languages gave me the opportunity to be trained and work as an Apprentice Teacher (AT) for two years. With the unfailing guidance of the Spanish faculty, I gave supplementary classes to small groups of Kenyon students. Being an AT was my first long-term experience in front of a class and prepared me to teach adult learners in Mexico. My supervising professors—VÍctor RodrÍguez-Núñez, Linda Metzler, Concetta Blechschmidt and my advisor Kate Hedeen—all gave me the freedom to run with their lesson plans and come into myself as a teacher.
When I was seventeen, I attended The Kenyon Review's Young Writers Workshop. By the end of the first week, I was head over heels in love with a place where people would sit under trees and write poetry. But I didn't commit to Kenyon until right before the acceptance deadline, when I went on a high school trip to Costa Rica. I was walking on a beach in the dead of night, looking for sea turtles nesting in a thunderstorm, and I knew: I would go to Kenyon. Later that night also I decided that I would major in Spanish and English. Everyone should make their life decisions on a beach in Costa Rica, because I did go to Kenyon, I did major in Spanish and English, and both of those choices have shaped my life in thrilling, profound ways.