A 2009 Herkimer High School graduate will travel to Thailand this week as part of yearlong English Teaching Assistantship through the distinguished Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship.
The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board recently announced Kelsey Woodrick, of Herkimer, will be a high school level English teaching assistant at the Sripathum Pittayakan School, a city school in the northeast province of Ubon Ratchathani. She will also serve as a cultural ambassador.
Woodrick, 22, is one of 20 students from around the United States who were awarded this fellowship, out of a pool of approximately 125 students who applied.
Woodrick said it was her experience in teaching overseas and working with different cultures while attending Le Moyne College in Syracuse that she developed a passion for working with international students.
Her experiences include teaching in Ecuador during a mission trip through her college and working with migrant specialists at BOCES, which included individuals from Burma. Over the summer, she and four other Le Moyne students traveled to Thailand with their anthropology professor to do research for the Freeman Foundation, to study the Akha hill tribe people of northern Thailand.
Woodrick said she was hoping either the Freeman Foundation research trip or the Fulbright program would work out for her.
"I feel very lucky," she said, about being able to participate in both experiences to Thailand.
Woodrick is scheduled to leave Sept. 26, and will complete the program in October 2014.
"I've been preparing by gathering a lot of materials I can use over there," she said during a telephone interview Tuesday. "The school over there is very poor."
Woodrick said she plans to bring educational materials with her on the trip, as part of her role as a cultural ambassador.
She said she wants to teach the students about the "ethnic diversity of America."
"With that being said, I also want to be able to help them understand the ethnic identity of themselves, and to see themselves as who they want to be," she said.
Woodrick is one of more than 1,700 U. S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2013 - 2014 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.
Woodrick graduated from LeMoyne earlier this year, with a bachelor's degree in English, with a concentration in literature, a minor in anthropology and an education concentration in teaching English to speakers of other languages. She plans to go to graduate school when she returns and then become an English as a second language teacher.
"I'm extremely anxious, but so excited," said Woodrick about her upcoming trip. "I'm hoping the students find who they are and I find out more about myself and what I want to get out of life in general."
Page 2 of 2 - Woodrick is the daughter of James and Carol Woodrick, of Herkimer. She has a twin sister, Karly, and two other sisters, Kaylyn and Kathryn.
According to a news release from Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation made by the U S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.