Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Chosen from thousands of applicants from colleges and universities across the U.S., seven University of Iowa undergraduates have been awarded the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, to study abroad this summer. Gilman scholarship recipients receive up to $5,000 to apply toward their study abroad or internship program costs.  Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies -- making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

Meet this year's recipients:


Fatima Tall

Fatima Tall, a fourth-year student majoring in both English and creative writing as well as gender, women’s and sexuality studies, from Caldwell, Idaho, will use her Gilman Scholarship to study abroad this summer in the United Kingdom on the CIEE London program.

Why did you decide to study abroad in London? 
I've previously studied in Senegal, West Africa, and I knew moving forward that I wanted to experience a community of immigrant Africans who had grown up in very eurocentric environments. Choosing to take courses in London this summer will expose me to these specific communities which will give me the opportunity to learn more about who exists within these spaces and specifically how these folk utilize literature and gender within the context of their culture. This will be a crucial foundation for my future research.  

How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I'm fascinated by transformative narratives and their roles in social change. Specifically, the way spoken word can dismantle binaries and the ways we conceptualize the self. After graduation, I plan on applying for a Fulbright art grant which would allow me to experiment with art and the way it conceptualizes Queer women of color (WOC) who immigrate to eurocentric communities while finding spaces to express their whole-selves. I also am interested in how Queer WOC immigrants cope with displacement and the ideas of "home" being fluid and not a static physical space - ideally how the home can be a place of the body. This would allow me to challenge strict gender roles and beauty standards that tend to control and police all women. I hope to then take my research to graduate school and study performance studies at the University of Groningen in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of Gender/Queer theory and the way it works within art and literature.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
As a Senegalese-American, my transnational identity is extremely pertinent to the way I understand myself in this world. As the world expands and continues to become more and more interconnected it is vital for us all to build our capacity for cultural competency and understanding. Studying abroad has been a beautiful form of cultural immersion. It has shown me that cross-cultural relationships are crucial in creating peaceful and loving communities. 



Zainab Makky 

Zainab Makky, a fourth-year student majoring in both international relations and ethics and public policy, from Iowa City, Iowa, will use her Gilman Scholarship for a summer IES internship in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Why did you decide to study abroad in Cape Town?
I chose to do an internship in Cape Town, South Africa, mostly because of its location. It’s on the southern tip of the African continent and is geographically isolated from large western nations. I picked Cape Town because it was a place I might otherwise not go. However, after researching the nation’s history, culture, and society, I realized that I might very well fall in love with South Africa.

How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I will be exploring the field of law by working with an attorney in a small firm. This internship will provide an international perspective on what practicing law looks like in South Africa. While I adapt to new surroundings, I will also develop important skills like time management, organization, and problem-solving. Working and balancing everyday life in Cape Town will encourage me to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses and improve on them.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
Studying/interning abroad is so important for growth—personally and professionally. As humans, we’re learning every day. Regardless of how much research I’ve done about South Africa or how many pictures I see, there’s no richer lesson than living there. Overseas, there are experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. I look forward to finding a new passion, developing stronger confidence, and connecting to people who I may forever call friends.



Spencer Peachee

Spencer Peachee, a fourth-year human physiology major from Davenport, Iowa, will use his Gilman Scholarship to participate in the CIEE Alcala Language & Culture Program in Alcala de Henares, Spain, during the summer session. 

Why did you decide to study abroad in Spain? 
I have always loved Spanish. I have taken Spanish classes in school ever since eighth grade. At this point in my Spanish career, I need to live in a Spanish community in order to better my speaking abilities. And since Mexico is so close to the United States, I decided to venture off and go somewhere that I won’t be able to visit very often. With this in mind, I found out that I love the culture of Spain as well so I decided that this was the perfect place.

How do you envision this experience impacting your future?
I am currently on the pre-medicine track and so this will greatly influence my future. First, this will look great on medical school applications. Second, my fluency will increase tremendously. For many people, going to the hospital is an extremely terrifying trip. It makes it worse if they don’t speak the native language. I believe that going to Spain and increasing my fluency will help me bridge the language gap with my future patients and make them more comfortable.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
Studying abroad is very important to me because I have never been outside of the country. I am extremely excited to experience a different culture than what I have seen within the Midwest.


Abby Donovan

Abby Donovan, a third-year communications studies and Spanish major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will use her Gilman Scholarship to study abroad this summer in Valladolid, Spain, at the Iowa Hispanic Institute

Why did you decide to study abroad at the Iowa Hispanic Institute?
My goal is to improve my Spanish speaking skills, as well as to immerse myself in a new culture and become more independent. 

How do you envision this experience impacting your future/career?
My studying abroad experience will give an insight into what it's like to live outside of the United States, and possibly see myself living abroad in the future. Career-wise, this will help me to hopefully be able to connect more positively with those from different backgrounds/cultures when I enter the workforce.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
To me, studying abroad is important because it will give me a sense of independence, while also learning to become a better Spanish speaker. I think studying abroad is something that everyone needs to do at some point during college because it gives you a chance to experience diversity. 



Theodore Van Winkle

Theodore Van Winkle, a fourth-year music major and honors student from Muscatine, Iowa, will use his Gilman Scholarship to participate in a summer IES internship in Vienna, Austria

Why did you decide to study abroad in Vienna?
As a student of the School of Music and the arts entrepreneurship program, surrounding myself with a culture that encourages advancements in education, innovation, and the arts are incredibly important to me. Austria, and Vienna in particular, promises to exceed all of my expectations when it comes to these criteria. Vienna was the birthplace of many aspects of western music and continues to be the home for countless prolific arts institutions. Furthermore, Austria's booming business sector and the government's deeply rooted support for the arts provides the perfect environment for me to learn and grow. 
How do you envision this experience impacting your future/career?
Seeking to further diversify my own personal experiences is one of the most valuable things I can do for myself. Up until this point, I've worked in a variety of fields, for a variety of businesses. Despite their dissimilarities, each one has given me a set of fundamental skills: Reliability. Integrity. Ingenuity. Confidence. I personally don't believe I would have learned as much as I did if I wasn't actively searching to diversify my own experiences. As I move forward with my career and start to look for jobs closer to my field of study, I want to continue to add to my personal value. No doubt, immersing myself in a new culture, learning a new language, and working one-on-one with a society I've never experienced before is sure to add a tremendous amount of value. 
Why is studying abroad important to you?
It is more important now than ever before to be able to work effectively across perceived cultural boundaries. This is especially pronounced in the fields of music and fine arts, where diversity of ethnicity, nationality, and identity play such a predominant role. Immersing myself in a foreign culture while interning will force me to learn how to overcome these barriers and communicate effectively, even when we don't share the same native language. Such an aptitude can't be taught just anywhere.

Sabereen Mohamed

Sabereen Mohamed, a third-year global health studies and ethics and public policy major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will use her Gilman Scholarship to study abroad this summer in Cape Town, South Africa, as part of the IES Cape Town Health Studies program. 

Why did you decide to study abroad in South Africa?
South Africa is a progressive country with a rich history. Seeing the progress that the country has made in the education, health, and economic sectors gives me hope for other developing countries which is an interest of mine. 

How do you envision this experience impacting your future/career?
My parents immigrated to America in 1996 from Somalia. Somalia is an enriched country with a beautiful culture and a diverse group of people. Seeing what South Africa has established for itself gives me the same hope for Somalia. My future goal is to rehabilitate Somalia. I'm hoping that my experience in South Africa will give me skill sets that I can apply to Somalia to further its stability.  

Why is studying abroad important to you?
We're often caught up in our own world and bubble. I think it's extremely important and beneficial to experience other cultures, people, languages, and food. That's the beauty of the world and when you're given the opportunity to, you definitely shouldn't think twice about it. When you get out in the real world it's an important skill set to have as well because then you'll know how to interact with individuals from all different backgrounds. 


Amanda Grabski

Amanda Grabski, a third-year therapeutic recreation major from Lockport, Illinois, will use her Gilman Scholarship to participate in the Child Life Experiential Learning Program in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Why did you decide to study abroad in South Africa? 
It is actually a really funny story, this past winter break, I was talking to a psychic about how I have always wanted to travel abroad and work with children in a hospital setting, but I admitted that I didn't think it was very plausible. When she told me she saw me doing the things that I loved in Africa, I honestly thought she was crazy, but she told me to stop standing in my own way and if I really wanted to travel...just do it! The first thing I did when I got back to school was sit down with my advisor and ask about what opportunities there were to take the practices of child life internationally. When she told me about the Child Life Experiential Learning Program in Cape Town, South Africa, I was speechless. It all seemed a little too surreal to be true! I applied for the program and luckily, I was one of less than 20 students to be chosen for this amazing opportunity! Everything just fell into place and from day one, it has just always felt like it was meant to be! 

How do you envision this experience impacting your future? 
Child life specialists provide evidence-based, developmentally, and psychologically appropriate interventions like therapeutic play and educational support to reduce fear, pain, and anxiety for children and their families. During our time in South Africa, we will be allowed to assist with a variety of tasks and activities at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Maitland Cottage Home, and Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital. Since child life specialists are a recently founded profession (1982), it can be difficult to find opportunities to practice it here in the U.S., so when I heard about the opportunity to take this internationally, I knew this was a goal I was willing to put all of my efforts into. I hope this program gives me ideas as to how I can do more in the future to raise awareness about the importance of child life and also to see if maybe one day further down the line, I too can create a program that takes child life across the globe.

Why is studying abroad important to you?
Being able to see how health care and developmentally appropriate interventions, such as therapeutic play, work in foreign countries would help to broaden my perspective on the way I care for my future patients before I even enter the work field! This experience will benefit me both on an academic and personal level and will help me to find the best ways to implement what I have learned at school in the real world. 


Learn more about the Gilman Scholarship program and how you can apply