Alicia Abbaspour ’18 recently was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. In January 2019, she will travel to Malaysia for 10 months to teach English to secondary school students.
Abbaspour earned a B.A. in international studies and English literature and minored in French studies. She came to Hartford from Indiana, seeking as many new experiences as possible, including studying away. She volunteered and interned in Ghana, South Africa, and France, often working with refugee populations. “[Being abroad] made me realize how much I like being out of my comfort zone, trying to navigate cultural, national, language, or religious barriers, and understanding and connecting with others,” she said.
These experiences led Abbaspour to apply for the Fulbright assistantship, which she felt was a perfect opportunity to combine her interests and to look at English in a new way. Her background as an Iranian-American also influenced her decision to apply for the assistantship. “My two countries have been at odds with one another my entire life,” Abbaspour said. “Being a cultural mediator between the two worlds I identify with has given me the opportunity to build mutual understanding between Iran and the U.S., just as I hope to do between Malaysia and the U.S.”
Abbaspour hopes to work in the NGO or nonprofit sector before attending law school or attaining a master’s degree in social work. She said that it is important to her to continue working with refugee and immigrant populations. “It’s the type of cross-cultural work that I love, and it’s also incredibly personal to me, as my parents are immigrants,” she said.
Another member of the Class of 2018, Suzanne Del Rosario, was named as an alternate for a U.S. Student Fulbright research grant for Trinidad and Tobago. A Posse Scholar from New York City with a double major in human rights and public policy and law, Del Rosario will research the impact of the recent economic crisis on gender roles in Trinidad, if she ultimately receives the grant.