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The experience “impacted my view of myself, my confidence in my language abilities and my cultural understanding.” –Wina Huang CC’17, 2014 Presidential Global Fellow
As a first-year student, Wina Huang CC’17 decided she wanted to spend summer 2014 becoming more proficient in Chinese while also pursuing her interest in finance. She was determined to do so in her parents’ native China and to fund the experience herself. A Presidential Global Fellowship allowed her to fulfill each of those goals.
The fellowship, which covers the fee associated with a Columbia global program, as well as travel and living expenses, enabled Huang to study business Chinese and intern at the Bank of China in Shanghai. The experience “impacted my view of myself, my confidence in my language abilities and my cultural understanding,” says Huang, who adds that, “I think in the future, I would be interested in pursuing a long-term career [in Asia-Pacific].”
Huang was one of 12 Columbia undergraduates, including nine College students, who were awarded Presidential Global Fellowships in the program’s first year. Funded by a seed grant from President Lee C. Bollinger, the fellowship enables rising sophomores in the College, SEAS and General Studies to explore their interests from an international perspective. In addition to Shanghai, the 2014 fellows pursued studies in Amman, Jordan; the Atlantic State Park in Brazil; Paris, France; Venice, Italy; and Beijing, China.
Scott Carpenter, associate dean of global education and fellowships, says the program is part of broader efforts to provide undergraduates with funded summer study abroad opportunities, which are not covered by financial aid. Targeting rising sophomores, he explains, maximizes the time fellows have to apply and share their insight at Columbia. “We’re showing them from a very early stage that an international component is going to be a crucial part of their educational lives at Columbia and, more importantly, their lives beyond Columbia,” says Carpenter. “They are then back on campus for the longest amount of time possible – the following three years – to continue to seek out international experiences and be at the vanguard of defining what a global education means for the undergraduate population.”
Evan Clinton CC’17, who plans to major in physics with a possible secondary major or concentration in art history, was one of two fellows who studied abroad in Venice. The opportunity to pursue his passion and improve his fluency in Italian in an art-rich city was one he relished. “To have that experience in Venice of art history as interactive and discussion-based went a long way toward solidifying my interests,” he says.
“I think students really benefited, not just from the financial gift of the fellowship, but from all the enhanced advising we provided before they left New York, while they were away, and now that they’re back,” says Michael Pippenger, dean of undergraduate global programs and assistant vice president of international education. “We’re working really closely with this cohort to help them realize that this global experience is the beginning of thinking about their curriculum and their professional life in new kinds of intellectual ways.” Pippenger says one of the program’s strengths is the guidance it offers. In preparation for spending the summer abroad, the 2014 fellows participated in workshops and events – including a meeting with President Bollinger – that revolved around the theme of globalization. During the summer, the fellows contributed to a communal blog and were mentored by Columbia alumni living in their host cities. Upon their return, they met to share and reflect on their experiences.
Nathalie Alonso CC ’08, from Queens, is a freelance journalist and an editorial producer for LasMayores.com, Major League Baseball’s official Spanish language website. She writes “Student Spotlight” for Columbia College Today. This story appeared in the 2013–2014 Columbia College Annual Report.