During her junior year at HWS, Olivia Woodruff ’16 planned to study abroad in Senegal, when the Ebola outbreak led to the program’s hiatus. Now, with the support of a 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Award, Woodruff has the chance to live in the country for a year as an instructor.
“What I really wanted from the Senegal study abroad trip was to experience a culture and lifestyle very different from the U.S.,” Woodruff says. “I am so excited that I finally get to have this experience.”
Known for its highly competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Woodruff is one of seven HWS students and recent graduates to earn a 2016-17 Fulbright U.S. Student Award, including Charles S. DeBenedetto ’16 (Taiwan), Ryan Kertanis ’16 (Mongolia), Afrika Owes ’16 (South Africa), Emma McDowell ’15 (Thailand), Virginia DeWees ’16 (Malaysia) and Sophia Skaff ’15 (Brazil).
As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Senegal, Woodruff will instruct Senegalese university students.
“I am in the Teacher Education Program, but I have never taught college students for any serious length of time. This experience will be a challenge, but I can’t wait to see where it takes me,” says Woodruff, who is also a scholar for the Margiloff Foundation Endowed Scholarship Fund.
A French and Francophone Studies major and double-minor in dance and education, Woodruff also played bassoon in the Colleges’ Woodwind Ensemble and hopes that in Senegal, she will “learn about and participate in some kind of dance or music group or class during my stay.”
In fact, this desire to engage in cultural exchange is what convinced her to apply to the program.
By participating in the Fulbright program, Woodruff hopes “to bridge two very different cultures. I want to learn about Senegalese culture and traditions as well as share my experience as an American. I believe that many of the world’s issues could be resolved through trying to understand one another. I want to go to Senegal and learn that country’s culture, lifestyle, religion and traditions in order to have a better understanding.”