Vijay and Hainze win Watson Fellowship and Fulbright

Dorothy Wickens

Madhuri Vijay and Anna Hainze, both ’09, will spend next year traveling and learning abroad. Vijay has been awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship and Hainze has been granted a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
The Watson Fellowship was started in 1968 in memory of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., the founder of IBM, and his wife in recognition of their interest in education and world affairs. The program gives college graduates the opportunity to travel outside the US or their home countries for one year while pursuing study that is self-created, executed and evaluated. During their year of travel, fellows are not allowed to return to either the U.S. or their home countries. This year, the Watson Fellowship has awarded $25,000 each to 40 students from colleges across the country.
Vijay will use her Watson Fellowship to travel to four countries: Fiji, Malaysia, South Africa and Tanzania. Hailing from India, Vijay is interested in large Indian diaspora populations in each of these countries. She intends to spend the year learning and writing nonfiction short stories about Indians who have either moved or been displaced to these countries. Vijay says, “As an Indian who lives in a different country, I’m very interested in those stories of displacement and biculturalism and bi-nationalism.”
The idea for Vijay’s project grew out of discussions she had with other students and faculty members. Originally applying on a whim, the application became a discovery process for Vijay as she realized how important the project was to her, as well as to the literary scene. “There is a gap in writing. There are lots of stories about Indians in the U.K. and lots of stories about Indians in America, but Indians are all over the world and I thought it was an important thing to write about,” Vijay said.
While her travel plans are not finalized, Vijay intends to spend three months in each country, starting in Fiji, moving on to Malaysia, hopefully living in Kuala Lumpur, then going to South Africa and finishing the year in Tanzania. Vijay hopes to live with Indian families throughout the year and get in touch with Indians from different walks of life through cultural centers and literary scenes.
Meanwhile, Hainze will be on the other side of the globe teaching English in Venzuela. The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government in an effort to increase understanding among people from different countries. The program offers students opportunities to travel, teach and study while contributing to solving international concerns. Established in 1946 by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program awards nearly 7,500 grants every year and operates in 155 different countries.
While Hainze has not been placed yet, the Fulbright program will send her to one of three cities in Venezuela: Caracas, Mérida or Maracaibo, where she will teach English to high-school-aged students, while also doing research on race relations in the country.
Hainze was interested in applying for the program because of her background in tutoring. She is currently the head content tutor for the CTL and has also had experience in English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring. Hainze has volunteered at an after-school program at the Bruce Guadalupe School in her hometown of Milwaukee, which serves as a mentoring and tutoring program for the large population of children of Hispanic immigrants in the area.
Hainze says she is excited and nervous for the opportunity. She is particularly excited about the hands-on aspect of having her own classroom of students, as well as working with the embassy. She also says she is a little nervous about living in a dangerous country, yet is looking forward to taking on the role of “cultural ambassador.”
“It’ll be an excellent opportunity to slowly break down a few stereotypes while I can with the few people I’ll come in contact with,” Hainze said.