Cumella ’11 Awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Indonesia

Grant will allow Asian studies concentrator to build on ‘transformative’ undergraduate experiences

May 1st, 2013 by Nikolas Markantonatos

Robin Cumella ’11, of Larchmont, N.Y., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Indonesia, where she will teach English to Indonesian high school students during the 2013-14 academic year. She also intends to volunteer her skills outside the classroom, such as at an orphanage or health clinic, in an effort to further her understanding of Indonesian culture.

During her time at Holy Cross, Cumella, an English major with an Asian studies concentration, studied abroad in Beijing and participated in the Mellon Summer Research Program in which she traveled to Bali with Susan Rodgers, W. Arthur Garrity, Sr. Professor in Human Nature, Ethics and Society in the sociology and anthropology department, to conduct anthropological fieldwork on textiles.

“Studying Chinese in Beijing and conducting fieldwork research in Bali were among the most transformative experiences of my undergraduate career, and I am eager to continue to build my cultural competence and ability to adapt to most any situation and environment,” Cumella wrote in her statement of grant purpose.

Since graduating, Cumella has co-authored an article with Professor Rodgers titled “Encountering Asian Art through Joint Faculty-Student Field Research and Museum Curatorship: Ignatian Parallels,” which was published in the spring of 2012 in Jesuit Higher Education: A Journal. She has also been working at a Department of State designated international high school exchange organization.

Cumella expects the Fulbright experience to help her discern a vocation as she prepares to apply for graduate programs. She is considering going into psychological counseling, teaching, international relations, or the chaplaincy. “Holy Cross’ beloved late chaplain, Kim McElaney, had a profound impact on my time at Holy Cross, and I am very tempted to follow in her footsteps,” she says.

At Holy Cross, Cumella was co-chair of the English Student Advisory Committee during her senior year; research assistant to Professor Rodgers for three years; peer educator for the student-run Nutrition, Exercise, and Eating Disorder Program; and Vietnamese ESL tutor through Student Programs for Urban Development, among others.

Each year approximately 1,700 U.S. college students are awarded grants through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship program in international educational exchange, awards grants to U.S. citizens and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. Since the program’s inception in 1946, more than 300,000 participants — selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential — have had the opportunity to observe each other’s political, economic and cultural institutions. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.

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