Egypt-bound: Fulbright winner heads to the Middle East
June 24, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
a Fulbright award this year, will spend nine months teaching
English in Egypt.
Smith studied abroad in Turkey (above) during her sophomore
year and completed a State Department-sponsored “Critical
Language Scholarship” in Jordan before graduating.
As a child, Morgan Smith ’10 of Louisville was captivated by Egyptian pharaohs and mummies. Now, at 22, she is preparing to study these interests in Egypt itself. As a 2010 Fulbright award winner, Smith will soon spend nine months teaching English in the Middle East.
“I wanted to continue advancing my Arabic language skills by being immersed in an Arabic-speaking country,” Smith says, explaining why she chose Egypt to become her temporary home. “Plus, as a kid I was fascinated by pharaohs and mummies, and I figured this was my opportunity to see the pyramids up close and personal!”
At Centre, Smith pursued her passions for all things Middle Eastern by designing her own major, aptly named “Middle Eastern Studies.” (Like many students, she earned a double-major; the other was mathematics.)
“My self-designed major introduced me to the politics, history, religion and culture of that region of the world,” she says. “The independent nature of my major instilled in me the work ethic and creativity to pursue unique opportunities—such as teaching English in another country—to apply and expand my understanding of the Muslim World. I can’t wait to see how the knowledge I accumulated at Centre will manifest in the present-day culture of Egypt.”
Smith is excited not only to teach students but learn from them as well. “I’m looking forward to learning about the modern Egyptian culture from my interactions with the students,” she says.
She also says that she looks forward to becoming “more fluent and confident with my Arabic,” though having spent several months abroad, she is already quite familiar with the language. During her sophomore year, she spent fall term in Turkey, where she studied at Bilkent University. (Click here to read her travel journals from the term.) And last summer, she furthered her Arabic skills on a State Department-sponsored “Critical Language Scholarship” in Jordan.
“While living and studying abroad, I learned to find opportunities to meet local people so that I could learn the most possible about the country and culture I was visiting,” she says. “It’s not always easy to engage with people who seem so different from ourselves, but the effort is very rewarding!”
After completing her year in Egypt, Smith will begin a master’s program in Islamic studies at Columbia University.
Smith is one of three 2010 Centre grads to have received a Fulbright award this year. Fulbright winner Polly Furth ’10 of Boston will spend the next year teaching English in Indonesia. Ellen Kuhn ’10 of Washington, Penn., is heading to France to begin a Fulbright-recommended teaching assistantship.