Image by John Buckingham
Kyle Olsen ’14, of Los Angeles, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Kyrgyzstan where he will teach English to Kyrgyzstani high school students during the 2014-15 academic year. Under the guidance of the Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan he will also have the opportunity to participate in community outreach and cultural activities, such as directing reading and conversation groups at the secondary level, conducting trainings and making presentations.
During his junior year, Olsen, a political science and Russian double major, studied in Russia on a Boren Scholarship for International Study. The Boren program provides up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Olsen also participated in a Holy Cross summer study abroad program in Russia during the summer before his junior year. While abroad, Olsen plans to advance his Russian skills through additional Russian language classes and take Kyrgyz language courses.
Olsen’s long-term goal is to pursue a diplomatic career at the U.S. Department of State, which, he said, will allow him to live out his passions for cultural immersion, international dialogue and human rights.
“My experiences in Eastern Europe and Eurasia gave me the opportunity to speak with individuals in their own backyards, to hear their stories and to share my own experiences with them,” he said. “Although politics was discussed frequently, we didn’t let this get in the way of our efforts to learn more about each other’s cultures, and to build a relationship during that process. For me, these conversations serve as a constant reminder that international relations extend beyond government-to-government dialogue; they involve human beings at all levels of society.”
At Holy Cross, Olsen is a retreat leader through the Chaplains’ Office, member of the political science and modern languages student advisory committees, and a volunteer with Student Programs for Urban Development.
Each year approximately 1,900 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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