Lauren “Ren” Workman ’18 has been awarded a prestigious Fund for Education Abroad (FEA) scholarship for 2017. She will use the award to spend a semester studying in Hanoi, Vietnam, this fall. Workman was one of 51 winners chosen from a pool of nearly 1,500 applicants representing 440 colleges and universities across the country.
Workman, who is pursuing a double major in cultural anthropology and environmental studies, is no stranger to international education. She previously traveled to Bali, Indonesia for an HWS J-term experience exploring the performing arts of the unique culture.
While in Hanoi, Workman will participate in intensive Vietnamese language instruction, and will study Vietnamese history, culture and the role of modernization in this ancient country. She will also undertake an independent research project. “Having an internship is one of the requirements of the program,” she says. “I do not know specifically what I’ll be doing yet, but I am hopeful it will be in the field of human rights or education.”
Workman’s interest in human rights issues is life-long. Most recently, she participated in an internship with Rural & Migrant Ministries, a non-profit organization that “works toward nurturing leadership, standing with the disenfranchised, especially farmworkers and rural workers, and changing unjust systems and structures,” according to its website.
Fellow students inspired Workman to apply for the FEA program. “During my first year at HWS,” she says, “I was lucky enough to have upperclassmen who served as mentors. Many of them had studied abroad in Vietnam and expressed to me how life-changing it was for them. I was set on going after my discussions with them.”
In addition to her studies, Workman hopes to pursue her interest in photography while overseas. “During my time in Bali, I took a lot of photos of what we were learning in our performing arts classes,” she says. “I found it was a beautiful way to document our trip, and want to continue with this. My hope is to learn some forms of traditional Vietnamese performing arts, and document this with photography.”
FEA is a non-profit organization established in 2010 that expands access to study abroad by raising awareness of the benefits of international study to the individual and society, and by providing scholarships on a competitive basis.