Fulbright scholarship recipients Savannah Dowling '12 and Sidney Karesh '12 teach English abroad.
Savannah Dowling ’12
and Sidney Karesh ’12
both earned the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Jordan and Belarus, respectively. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program
is a highly selective international exchange program that provides grants for overseas study, research or English teaching assistantships and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Grants are awarded to the most qualified students following a rigorous application and approval process. More than 11,000 applicants from more than 140 countries compete for approximately 1,900 awards annually. Evaluation is based on a variety of factors including proof of high academic achievement and evidence that the candidate will advance the Fulbright mission to collectively address global challenges and work toward world peace. Fulbright alumni have gone on to earn 59 Nobel Prizes and 84 Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 have served as a head of state or government.
When she started high school, Savannah Dowling ’12 was certain that she wanted to be a physician, but by the time she graduated, she knew life had a different plan. After graduating from La Jolla Country Day School, Dowling attended Cornell University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies and China and Asia Pacific Studies in 2016. That same year, Dowling was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Amman, Jordan, where she spent the 2016–2017 school year teaching English to seventh-graders at Al-Asriyya School. Dowling describes her time in Jordan as the culmination of many years of learning Arabic and studying Middle Eastern politics at LJCDS and in college. “I learned so much from the experience—particularly what it’s like being on the ‘other side’ of the language learning equation,” she reflects. “As a passionate language learner, I am deeply familiar with the difficulties that come with learning a foreign language. Learning a second language isn’t easy, and teaching a language isn’t either.”
In addition to teaching, Dowling interned at Endless, a company that produces software and computers for people who do not have reliable access to the internet. As the ground team liaison, she helped facilitate Endless’s partnership with UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa region. She also worked for a law office in Amman that focuses on protecting and upholding the rights of migrant workers in Jordan.
Dowling is currently a reporter at Crunchbase News, where she writes about the intersection of money and technology. Her research is focused on startups and venture capital in Asia.
Imagine standing in front of a classroom where you’ve prepared an 80-minute English lesson for a group of college students who are the same age as you—except they are non-native English speakers. For Sidney Karesh ’12, it’s just another day at the office.
Karesh was awarded a coveted Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to guest lecture at Minsk State Linguistic University in Belarus. She spent the 2017–2018 academic year covering a variety of topics from Mass Media to American Studies, teaching up to 16 different classes, delivering a new lesson every two weeks.
In addition to her regular lessons, Karesh developed “English Walk and Talks,” informal meetings at a local park where students could practice English in a more casual setting. These meetups also allowed her to build relationships with students that she would otherwise have seen only a couple of times. She additionally set up an online classroom to share articles, book recommendations, English resources and even some memes.
Outside of the university, Karesh led weekly conversation clubs at the international library, worked with the public affairs department of the United States Embassy, and traveled to other towns and cities in Belarus where she led activities.
Before the Fulbright opportunity, Karesh graduated from Brown University in 2016 and served as a City Year AmeriCorps Member for one year, working with sixth-graders at Lee Mathson Middle School in San Jose, California.
Since her earliest memories, Karesh has wanted to be a teacher. “I could not be more appreciative for the education I have had,” she says. “And I fundamentally believe that every child should have access to the opportunities, resources and support to flourish in their educational careers and beyond.”