|Ian Renner '08 will
observe, assist and run theater activities for child laborers in Egypt as
a 2008-09 Fulbright scholar.
13 Students, Alumni to Receive Scholarships Under Fulbright Program
In Egypt, about 300,000 children spend their days laboring six days a week to help
support their families and shoulder significant responsibilities at home.
As a recent Fulbright scholar, Ian Renner ’08 will spend the 2008-09
academic year helping some of these children regain their childhood through
theater. He is one of 13 Wesleyan students and recent graduates to receive
scholarships under the auspices of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Administered by the Institute for International Education, the Fulbright
U.S. Student Program awards full research grants to graduating seniors and
young alumni after an extensive application process. Recipients receive a
stipend to cover travel, housing and living expenses.
“The children I’ll be working with are denied an opportunity to attend
school or socialize with other children, and this impairs their ability to
develop into competent adults and further perpetuates poverty,” Renner
says. “Childhood is a time during which children develop self-esteem, a
voice, and a sense of a community that many will keep for the rest of their
lives. Supporting children is supporting a society’s future.”
Renner accepted an internship with the Cairo, Egypt-based Townshouse
Gallery, working with Mahmoud El Lozy, associate professor of drama at the
American University in Cairo. Renner will observe, assist and run theater
activities for area children, and study the performance work being done with
child laborers at the Townhouse. Eventually, Renner hopes to become involved
in leading theater activities with the working children.
“Since working children are often isolated, theater is a space where bonding
and self-organization occurs through group work, leading to a sense of
collective ownership over creative potential,” Renner explains. “Creating
character in drama can potentially help children understand themselves
better and visualize changing their position in society. And at a minimum,
theater can provide a small but real window of time for laboring children to
experience a childhood that they are otherwise denied.”
Renner has already worked with low-income children at Oddfellows Playhouse
in Middletown. He hopes the Oddfellows experience, along with his Fulbright,
will help guide his future professional development. Renner foresees working
for an organization that addresses the concerns of at-risk children on a
Cedric Bien ’08 also received a Fulbright grant to study and research in
China, but declined his Fulbright in favor of a Watson fellowship. Ameera
Hamid ’08 was made a Fulbright alternate for study and research in
Bangladesh, and may yet receive a grant.
Four students received French Government Teaching Assistantships, under the
auspices of Fulbright. Emily Hauck ’08, Kai Johnson ’08, Emma Rosenberg ’08,
and Sara Rowe ’08 will teach English in high schools in France during the
2008-09 academic year. The program is funded by the French government.
“Our students will be working with a master teacher and will represent
American culture, leading conversation and activities with the French
students,” says Wesleyan Fulbright organizer Krishna Winston. “They will help the French students realize that
English is a spoken language, not just words in a textbook.”
Three other students were awarded, or selected as alternates, for
English-teaching opportunities in foreign countries. Maya Bery ’08, will
teach in Taiwan; Emily Malkin ’08 is an alternate to teach in Malaysia; and
Hyun Hannah Nam ’08 is an alternate to teach in South Korea.
“My main goal is to begin learning Chinese, but on a more personal level, I
hope to learn and grow from the challenges of moving to a country I've never
visited before, where I don't speak the language, and to hopefully learn to
be an effective teacher as well,” Bery says. She has been assigned to an
elementary and middle school in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Three alumnae also received Fulbrights. Marion Holaday ‘06 will study the
rights of immigrants in South Africa; Rachel Lindsay ‘05 will study
sustainable agriculture in Nicaragua, and Laura LeCorgne MA ’05 will
complete a photographic-ethnographic study of musicians and musical-
instrument makers in Egypt.
This year Winston worked with 27 students applying for Fulbrights and
related grants, and of those 15 were recommended for grants. Only two of the
15 were rejected outright.
“This year, we had an extraordinary yield,” Winston says. “It’s the best
year we’ve ever had."
By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection