As the World Turns
Ansin scholarships support global learning
When Mei Li Ngo ’11 went to Japan during her junior year, she took the hard route: to better learn the language, she lived with a Japanese family rather than with other English-speaking students. Giannah Coutard ’11 credits her fluency in Spanish with her intense immersion in the language while studying in Spain.
For the two students, their study abroad experience was much more than learning another language. “It’s nice to see what’s on the other side of the world,” says Ngo. Coutard says her time in Spain will help with her linguistic skills as she encounters Spanish-speaking people while interning at the Eastern Hampshire District Courthouse in Belchertown.
The two are students in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, where global education is emphasized. “Our students need to understand other people to be effective global citizens,” says Dean Robert Feldman. The cost of studying abroad was partly underwritten by the Ansin Foundation Study Abroad Fellows Fund. “Without the Ansin scholarship, study abroad would be out of reach for a good number of our students,” notes Feldman.
Ngo, a communications major, spent her month in Hokkaido, Japan, where she learned more about the culture that has fascinated her since high school. Opting to stay with a family who spoke Japanese only, Ngo wanted to have a homegrown perspective. “It was frustrating at first but it’s fun to figure out what they were saying,” commented Ngo. The experience helped push Ngo to speak Japanese as she navigated the ins-and-outs of Japan. One experience of being lost on the island had Ngo asking for directions by using basic phrases, eventually making her comfortable in speaking to others.
Coutard, a sociology major and criminal justice minor, would not be fluent in Spanish without the help of the Ansin scholarship, which helped her study in Salamanca, Spain.
“I am now much more appreciative of other cultures, and I’ve learned to adapt,” says Coutard. She says she quickly adjusted to the late night dinners at 10 p.m., the custom in Spain, rather than early evening dinners in the United States.
Ngo and Coutard were two of 20 who received a scholarship from the Ansin Fund last year. The study abroad experience has influenced Ngo’s post-graduation plans: she will return to Japan and teach English. Coutard plans on serving her country through Teach for America or the MATCH Corps.