UNW students awarded GIlman, Fulbright funding to go abroad

After 10 years of Fulbright winners, Gilman scholarship recipients Britany Dumas-Jones '15, Kou Thao '14 and Maly Lee '15 have contributed to a new legacy at Northwestern.  Dumas-Jones is studying Chinese and history in Hong Kong for the semester, and Thao and Lee left last week on a tri-country tour of Asia on an internship with 11 other UNW students.

“I was almost 100 percent sure I wasn’t going to get the scholarship, because it’s pretty competitive," said Thao, intercultural studies major, "They get thousands and thousands of applicants.”

A friend of Thao's, Lee shared her surprise with him after they received the news this summer.

"When I saw the email, I was in shock because I wasn’t expecting it. But it was more this presence of awe of God's work."

Prior to applying for the Gilman, Lee had just added an international studies minor, whetting her appetite to experience the overseas internship offered by the program each year.  This year students will spend a two weeks in China, then a month in Thailand and finally another two weeks in South East Asia.  After years of wanting to be in China, for Thao, the alignment of the Gilman and this year's internship was undeniable.

Upon their return, Dumas-Jones, Thao and Lee will complete a service project to share their experience, inform other students about the Gilman scholarship and encourage study abroad opportunities. Thao planned a dinner of local food from the nations he experienced abroad, with topical discussions at each table.

"I wanted to do it in a very casual way where students would be able to ask questions freely and just be comfortable, " said Thao.

The Gilman International Scholarship Program was established under the International Opportunity Act of 2000 and is funded by Congress, providing opportunities for studying abroad to minority or non-traditional students and students with disabilities. Eligibility is limited to US citizens who receive Pell Grants for their education, and recipients may study abroad for a partial or whole semester, with grants up to $5000, and up to $8000 for studying a critical need language.

While Thao, Lee and Dumas-Jones experience South East Asia this fall, UNW's 2013 Fulbright recipient Anastasia Pederson is completing a yearlong teaching assitantship in Slovakia.

Follow the ICS 2013 blog for live updates from South East Asia