The Ancient Greek word paideia refers to the cultural and academic education of the whole person — mind and body, morals and virtue. In Modern Greek the term, loosely translated, refers to “children.” It is this intersection of meanings that has resonated for Jeanine Cryan ’15 during her experience as a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award recipient based in Greece.
“The Greek cultural value of education of children as a whole person has greatly influenced me as both a teacher and student myself,” says Cryan, who majored in classics, minored in education and is now teaching Greek students English through the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. “The most exciting facet of my Fulbright experience in Greece has been the relationships I have built with my students. I have found purpose both as an educator and cultural ambassador.”
Cryan was able to prepare for her responsibilities as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) thanks in part to a service-learning course she took at HWS, during which she spent a few hours each week in an ESL classroom, “an important stepping stone for my role as a Fulbright ETA today,” she says. “When I feel challenged, I think back to that course and with help from my department chair (in Greece), I’m empowered to handle any situation that comes my way.”
Outside her ESL classroom in Greece, Cryan is strengthening her understanding of the country, its culture and its history. She has climbed to the Acropolis, visited the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon, and traveled to Rhodes to honor her grandfather, who served there with the U.S. Coast Guard.
“I was looking for an experience that would change my perspective and assumptions that I had made about life, education and culture abroad,” Cryan says, and she has found it. Under the backdrop of the recent Greek financial crisis and the influx of migrants and refugees, Cryan’s experience has deepened her broader sense of paideia, prompted reflection on those moral and social issues, and left her “inspired by the resilience of the Greek people and their generosity for others. Bearing witness to the willingness to give and share, when resources are already strained, has impacted me to my core.”
With plans to pursue a master’s degree and with a keen interest in cultural rights and international antiquities law and the protection of cultural objects and art repatriation, Cryan says that her education — both from HWS and through the Fulbright program — has ensured she is “equipped to handle all challenges that I have come across.”
Cryan is one of seven members of the Classes of 2015 who earned Fulbright award — a record for a single year at the Colleges.
In February 2016, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs named Hobart and William Smith among the nation’s top colleges and universities with the most recipients of U.S. Fulbright Student Awards. Among bachelor’s institutions, the Colleges were named alongside colleges such as Bowdoin College, Smith College, Middlebury College, Ponoma College and Williams College. With seven Fulbright recipients, the Colleges are tied for the No. 13 spot nationally.