HARTFORD, CT, July 17, 2013 – Allison Windham ’13, is not fazed in the least by the demonstrations and political unrest that has gripped some cities in Turkey over the past few months. On the contrary, she couldn’t be more thrilled to be going to a country that she “started to fall in love with” during her first year at Trinity.
A public policy and law major from Atherton, CA, Windham was originally chosen as an alternate. But she learned in early June that a slot had opened up. She leaped at the chance and will be heading to Turkey in September, where she will be teaching English at Ataturk University in Erzurum, a city of about 370,000 in the eastern part of the country. First, however, she will attend a two-week training session in the capital city of Ankara.
Windham’s selection brings to six the number of Trinity alumni who have been awarded prestigious Fulbrights for the coming year. The previously announced winners include Elizabeth DeWolf ’10, who will be conducting research in the United Kingdom; Lisa Esposito ’09, who will be teaching in Italy; Caitlin Gura ’13, who will be doing research and teaching in Austria; Jahn Jaramillo ’12, who will be teaching in Thailand; and Peter Van Oot, Jr. ’13, who will be teaching in Indonesia.
There are still two alternates: Jaclyn Arencibia ’13, a Questbridge Scholar who is seeking to conduct research in Spain; and Griha Singla ’09, who wants to do research for the European Union. Gabrielle LaFavre ’13, was a finalist for a teaching assistantship in South Africa. LaFavre, a George M. Ferris Scholar, will have an opportunity to reapply.
Coincidentally, until last December, DeWolf had been living and teaching English in Istanbul, although she now is bound for the London School of Economics, where she will partner with the Fulbright program and enroll in a one-year master’s degree program in City Design and Social Science.
Windham has traveled extensively, having already been to Turkey once. She spent the spring semester of her junior year in Barcelona, and is currently in Thailand. But of all the countries she has visited, Turkey is the one that has captured her heart and imagination.
It was during her first-year seminar with Frank Kirkpatrick, Ellsworth Morton Tracy Lecturer and Professor of Religion, when she engaged in a game called “Hunting Heresy in the Forest in the 17th Century,” which was set in Istanbul, that she became fascinated with Turkey.
She believes Istanbul, a city of nearly 14 million people, is unique in that it blends the modern and the traditional, with its Asian and European influences. Indeed, Istanbul’s commercial and historic center is in Europe but roughly one-third of its population resides in Asia.
“It’s the only city where you can take a boat ride and get from Europe to Asia,” Windham said.
Windham said she applied for a teaching assistantship because she “loves kids and has been working with them all my life.” For example, she has been a camp counselor and, while at Trinity, was a first-year mentor, a teaching assistant, a mentor at the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy at the Learning Corridor, and a tutor at M.D. Fox Elementary School in Hartford.
“I’m really excited to be teaching English at Ataturk University in Erzurum,” she said, adding that it’s a city steeped in history. It was an important stop on the Silk Road, has been conquered and re-conquered by various empires since medieval times, and served as a NATO Air Force post during the Cold War era. The city is also known for its winter sports, and hosted the Winter Universiade in 2011.
In addition to teaching English, Windham said she will be involved in “increasing the cultural understanding between Turkey and the United States.” She hopes to start a pen pal program with students from Trinity and Ataturk University.
Windham said she was especially grateful to Kirkpatrick, Adrienne Fulco, associate professor of legal and policy studies, and Romulus Perez, assistant director of campus activities.
“Without [them] my Trinity experience would have been very different. I can only hope to emulate them while teaching in Turkey,” she said.
Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.
The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by Congress to “enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education.