September 2014 Archways


KanumallaBoren Scholar to Study Arabic

“I grew up with the Iraq War,” says Sangita Kanumalla ’14. “But it wasn’t until my freshman year when the Arab Spring happened that I really considered making religion and politics in the Middle East the focus of my studies. There was something about seeing all those people standing up for their freedom that really inspired me.”

Her Arab Spring–fueled enthusiasm led Kanumalla to enroll in an Arabic course at the University of Pennsylvania—and to declare a religion major at Haverford, with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies. At Bryn Mawr, she honed her Arabic, spending two summers in Cairo, first in an intensive Arabic program and then on the Judy L. Gould Scholarship.

In May, she returned to the region for a trip to Jerusalem, sponsored by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC), and for an internship at a Jordanian interfaith organization, with funding from a CPGC senior bridge grant.

Today, Kanumalla has settled in Muscat, Oman, for an academic year as a recipient of the Boren Scholarship. A federally funded program designed to build the pool of U.S. citizens with critical foreign language and international skills, the Boren Scholarship provides students with up to $20,000. This year, 165 scholarships were awarded out of an applicant pool of 868.

“I was in Egypt when the Morsi regime was elected in the country’s first democratic presidential elections,” Kanumalla explains, “but was also there when there were massive protests against the regime. It really shows just how complicated the situation is and highlights the importance of U.S. engagement.”

A first-generation Indian-American, Kanumalla hopes to work one day as a foreign service officer in the Department of State. “This country has provided a lot of opportunities to my family and me,” she explains, “and I would love to be able to represent it abroad.”


MarcouxFulbright Winner Heads to Andorra

For her Fulbright Teaching Assistantship, Katherine Marcoux ’14 chose to work in the tiny Catalan-speaking principality of Andorra—a choice that resulted from a study-abroad experience in Barcelona. “In Barcelona, they speak Spanish and Catalan,” she says. “It fascinated me to observe when people decided to use which language and in what context. I then came back and took Haverford’s Politics of the Spanish Speaking World, and the two prompted me to write my senior thesis on Catalan and how its prestige had changed over the years.”

In Andorra, Marcoux is teaching and also observing her thesis research firsthand. “I have found that…it is through day-to-day interactions that you learn about each other’s culture and customs and realize how similar we are in the end, despite the differences.”

Marcoux comes by her love of language naturally: As a child, she lived with her family in Italy and Japan and, in high school, studied French and Spanish, took a semester of Mandarin, and continued to study Japanese.

At Bryn Mawr, Marcoux focused her major on linguistics, Spanish, and Japanese and worked as a teacher’s assistant for an intermediate Spanish class and, in Barcelona, as a volunteer English teacher.

“What I like about teaching is getting across my enthusiasm and love for the language—even though it might not be the student’s favorite class,” she says.


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