HARTFORD, CT, June 29, 2011 – Kayla Lawson, who graduated in May with honors in human rights and anthropology, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Indonesia. Lawson, of North Andover, Mass., will be going in August to Tangerang, a suburb of the capital city of Jakarta.
With roughly 245 million people, Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country and has the world’s largest Muslim population. Bahasa is primarily spoken there. Lawson will be a teacher at MAN Insan Cendekia, a private Muslim high school.
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 of other countries. Scholarships to students are largely based on academic achievement and leadership potential.
Lawson said the opportunity to live in Indonesia and teach English to students is a natural outgrowth of her longtime interest in humanitarian advocacy work. In thinking about what she would do after she graduated, another option was applying to the Peace Corps. But the Fulbright fit well with her career aspirations. “I’d ultimately like to work for a human rights organization,” she said in a recent interview.
Lawson’s interest in Indonesia was piqued last summer when she was a teaching assistant at Philips Academy in Massachusetts and met a student from that Asian country. “It really got me interested in working with international students.”
It won’t be the first time that Lawson has been abroad or has done advocacy work. She spent a semester in 2009 at Trinity’s global campus in Paris. And in the summer of 2009, she worked on the Counter Terror with Justice Campaign at Amnesty International in Washington D.C. as part of Trinity’s Human Rights program.
“Working for Amnesty International gave me a feel for what it’s like to be involved in anti-terrorism and anti-torture efforts,” she said. “It was really great working with students my age who were promoting human rights and who wanted to promote change.”
Lawson will participate in a weeklong orientation program in July in Washington D.C. before heading to Indonesia. She is one of more than 1,500 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2011-12 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
In addition, the Fulbright Program awards grants to American teachers and faculty to do research, lecture, and teach overseas. Also, nearly 3,400 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, do research, and lecture at U.S. universities, colleges, and secondary schools.
The student program, which got its start in 1946, is administered by the Institute of International Education. Financial support is provided by an annual appropriation from Congress to the U.S. Department of State, with significant contributions from participating governments and host institutions in the United States and abroad. The Fulbright Program operates in about 155 countries worldwide.
For more information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit: http://fulbright.state.gov.