Charles S. DeBenedetto ’16 was recently awarded a prestigious 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Taiwan, where he will teach English.
“I am truly honored and humbled,” says DeBenedetto, who studied abroad in Taiwan during the fall of his junior year. “During that time every Taiwanese person I encountered treated me with patience and kindness as I struggled to improve my Chinese skills. Everyone, from my Chinese professors and friends to strangers I struck up conversations with on the subway helped me improve my Chinese, and now through the Fulbright award I can go back and return the favor by helping Taiwanese children improve their English skills.”
Known for its highly competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. This semester, DeBenedetto is one of seven HWS students and recent graduates to earn a 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Award, including Virginia DeWees ’16 (Malaysia), Ryan Kertanis ’16 (Mongolia), Afrika Owes ’16 (South Africa), Olivia Woodruff ’16 (Senegal), Emma McDowell ’15 (Thailand) and Sophia Skaff ’15 (Brazil).
This spring, the Colleges again have a record number of Fulbright recipients, matching the seven awarded to members of the Classes of 2015. In light of last year’s outcomes, the Colleges have since been named among the top colleges and universities with the most recipients of 2015-16 U.S. Fulbright Student Awards, placing 13th in the nation.
DeBenedetto will serve as a teaching assistant in an elementary or middle school, and “equally important,” he says, “I will be a part of a community and will do my best to simultaneously embrace Taiwanese culture and share American culture.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people, practicing and improving my Chinese, giving back to Taiwan, reuniting with friends I made during my study abroad semester, and becoming integrated in a community,” he says. “Through my year with Fulbright I believe I can make lasting connections with people who I already know I’ll be in contact with my whole life.”
A double-major in international relations and Asian studies with a minor in music, DeBenedetto is a residential assistant on campus and was an America Reads tutor at Geneva’s West Street School. Among his many academic honors and awards, he was invited to attend the Technos International Week in Japan in the summer of 2014, and last year, he earned a Critical Languages Scholarship for Intensive Summer Institutes from the U.S. Department of State.
DeBenedetto, who will leave for Taiwan in August, says that when he returns in July of 2017, he anticipates enrolling in graduate school in Asian studies, with plans to pursue a career in academia or in public service, with organizations like the U.S. Department of State or the United States Agency for International Development.
For stories about the 2015-16 Fulbright recipients, visit: Cydney Chibnall ’15 (France), Katherine Cornell ’15 (India), Jeanine Cryan ’15 (Greece), Georgia Decker ’15 (Malaysia), Katheryn DePietro ’15 (Brazil), Jordyn Dezago ’15 (Ecuador) and Christopher Troy ’15 (Argentina).