Cailey Stevens ’12, Sophia Mo ’14, Christine Keung ’14, and Jennifer Lu ’12 Won 2014 Fulbright Grants

May 20, 2014
world map with Wellesley Fulbright winner's faces tagged to the country they will serve

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Fulbright Program has awarded grants to and Cailey Stevens ’12, Sophia Mo ’14, Jennifer Lu ’12, and Christine Keung ’14. Preparing to travel to Mexico, France, China, and Germany, respectively, each alum will engage with local communities through a variety of activities, including research, teaching English, and civic engagement. In addition to two other Wellesley alums who received 2014 Fulbright awards but elected to accept other opportunities, these women join a long tradition of Wellesley Fulbright Scholars.

According to the Fulbright website, the program is "the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The program was established in 1946. Meet this year's Wellesley Fulbright winners.

Jennifer Lu ’12 (Germany, English Teaching Assistant)

The first year after she graduated, Jenny Lu ’12 won a Susan Rappaport Knafel ‘52 Scholarship for Foreign Study to research British Sign Language and child development at University College London. The next year, she won a CouchSurfing “Get Inspired” contest to travel the world and visit different Deaf communities in order to learn different sign languages. Now, through her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Lu will spend a year teaching in Germany and learning more about the German Deaf community.

“I will be working at a bilingual deaf school as an English teaching assistant in Hamburg,” says Lu, who is from Boston, Mass. “All classes are taught in Deutsche Gebärdensprache [DGS/German Sign Language] and I'm excited about the challenge of teaching these kids English and ASL as well as learning German and DGS!”

Lu’s interest in developmental psychology and education were shaped by her work with Jennie Pyers and Barbara Beatty. “At Wellesley, I did research on deaf signing children and language acquisition, and developed a deep interest in how children learn about the world through sign language, especially in the classroom,” she said. “As a researcher, it's important for me to get more experience working as a teacher in the classroom so I gain a better understanding of this question.”

Christine K Keung ’14 (China, Research Grant)

Christine Keung grew up speaking three different dialects of Chinese: Mandarin, Cantonese, and the Shanghai dialect. “My parents are from very different parts of China, and lived in many regions because of forced immigration during the Cultural Revolution,” she explains. “I grew up fascinated by the rich diversity among the different regions of China—the different dialects spoken, the various challenges they face, the income differences, etc.”

From Temple City, Calif., Keung majors in economics and minors in Chinese language and literature; she took classes ranging from environmental studies to computer science and women's and gender studies. During her sophomore year, she won a National Science Foundation research grant to spend four weeks in Xi’an, China. “I had the opportunity to engage with local graduate students and other Fulbright Fellows as we traveled to the rural communities on the Loess Plateau,” she recalls. “It was absolutely incredible to get to see the basin of the Yellow River and the fish-scale terracing in this rural region. It was also difficult to see such environmental degradation and poverty. When I left, I didn't know if I would ever get a chance to see this region again. I am so grateful for an opportunity to return.”

With her Fulbright grant, Keung will return to Xi’an and explore rural communities on the Loess Plateau. She will examine issues of rural immigration and waste infrastructure, as varying degrees of industrialization and urbanization affect these villages in different ways. The interdisciplinary nature of her project is inspired by her Wellesley studies. Keung gives credit to many of the professors who helped her along her journey, including Eni Mustafaraj, Mingwei Song, Pinar Keskin, and Jay Turner.

Sophia Mo ’14 (France, English Teaching Assistant)

“I've been in love with everything French for as long as I can remember,” says Sophia Mo ’14. “Part of this can be chalked up to a slight error in logic my eight-year-old self made: Since my parents were born in China but lived in the United States and my aunt was born in China but lived in France, I managed to convince myself that I was American, Chinese, and French. Even after my parents burst my bubble, literally nothing could stop me from trying to be French. Admittedly, it's somewhat of an unhealthy obsession. I used to copy my favorite French words out of dictionaries in middle and high school. I'm not so different now. More than half of the books I own are in French, my dorm room is papered with French poems, and scores of French philosophers have illuminated the pixels of my desktop background. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that winning a Fulbright to Paris is a childhood dream come true.”

As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, Mo will teach English at a local high school. She also plans to lead an extracurricular “oratory arts” club, to involve her students in speech, debate, and drama. In addition to her experience double-majoring in French and international relations, Mo draws from years of involvement in mock trial and debate clubs herself, as well as time spent working as public speaking tutor in the Wellesley Pforzheimer Learning and Tutoring Center.

“I’ve seen that public speaking is highly effective not only in building confidence and language skills, but also in sharpening critical thinking skills and encouraging self-reflection,” says Mo, who is from Westford, Mass. “I'm excited to continue teaching the tips and tricks I've been refining for the last several years, but I also want to challenge myself to apply what I've learned to a totally different environment to figure out what works and what doesn't work.”

Cailey Stevens ’12 (Mexico, Binational Business Internship)

Cailey Stevens is fascinated by the changes going on in Mexico at the moment. “Reforms taking place in the Mexican energy sector have the ability to transform the Mexican economy, the future of economic development in Latin America, and the diplomatic relationship between the countries of North America,” says Stevens. “It’s also the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, so the United States and Mexico have been working to deepen their economic integration.”

Stevens, who comes from Kodiak, Alaska, became intrigued by Latin American economic development during her time at Wellesley, where she double-majored in economics and Spanish. She spent her junior year studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and during her senior year, attended the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs. Describing the institute as “one of the best experiences of my life,” Stevens says that being a fellow “not only built on my interests in development and foreign policy, but also inspired me to seek out opportunities for international engagement like Fulbright.”

As a Fulbright Binational Business Intern, Stevens will be working with a Mexican company as well as taking graduate courses at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM) and living in Mexico City. “I’m still in the process of determining what company I’ll work for, but I’m particularly interested in working with the airline Volaris or a development organization like Endeavor,” she says. “In the future I hope to work on foreign policy and economic development in Latin America, so working, living, and studying in Mexico is an excellent step toward that goal.”