In August 2014, Kelsey Ryan '14 will make her third trip to Greece-this time, as a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant recipient. Ryan's award marks the fourth-consecutive year that Emmanuel College has had a Fulbright winner.
A double major in international studies and Spanish, Ryan will spend the 2014-2015 academic year as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at Athens College, an independent private high school in Pyschiko, Greece, a suburb just north of the country's capital. Through the Fulbright program, ETAs are placed in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to teachers of English to non-native English speakers.
Ryan's interest in Greece began during the spring 2012 semester, when she traveled to the island of Crete through Emmanuel's Eastern Mediterranean Security Studies Program with Associate Professor of Political Science Petros Vamvakas.
"I fell in love with Greek culture," Ryan said. "I felt really comfortable there."
The trip influenced her academic experience at Emmanuel, and her research focus turned to Greece and the Eurozone crisis. Then, after spending the spring 2013 semester studying in Spain, she was able to return to Crete on her way back to the United States, visiting friends she had made and kept in touch with from the previous summer.
With guidance from Assistant Professor of Theology + Religious Studies and Director of Fellowships Laurie Johnston, Ryan began searching for opportunities to follow her May 2014 graduation.
"The Fulbright to Greece really stood out to me," Ryan said. "In addition to the English-teaching component, there's an administrative component that will let me work in the school's library, serving as a research resource for the students."
Ryan gained some teaching experience during her time at Emmanuel, serving as an instructional assistant for First-Year Seminar and as an Academic Resource Center peer tutor for comparative politics and Spanish.
During her final semester, Ryan is interning at the Greek Consulate in Boston, serving as an assistant to the Consul General Ifigenia Kanara. In addition to drafting correspondence and preparing speeches, Ryan is involved with the planning of the Consulate's annual, pre-Boston Marathon wreath ceremony, during which handmade olive wreaths from Marathon, Greece, are presented to the Boston Athletic Association. The event, which has traditionally been held at the Consulate, will be held in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House in front of more than 700 guests.
Ryan hopes to supplement her limited knowledge of the Greek language before her departure in August. In addition to fluency in Spanish, the self-described "language nerd" took three semester of Arabic while at Emmanuel.
The Fulbright program provides housing for its 10 international fellows on the Athens College campus. If her schedule allows, Ryan hopes to continue her research independently over the next year, in preparation for her return to the United States. While her post-Fulbright plans are largely up in the air, Ryan plans to look at graduate programs in comparative politics, with the possibility of continuing her teaching career. She has also been inspired by her time at the Greek Consulate, and has not ruled out taking the Foreign Service exam.
"This award reaffirms how thankful I am that I've had such a supportive network while at Emmanuel," Ryan said. "Professor Johnston nudged me in the direction of the Fulbright and kept encouraging me when I would get frustrated with the application process and wanted to quit. Professor Vamvakas was helpful in showing me more about the region of Greece that I'm interested in.
"I feel like I'm accepting an Oscar," she laughed.