Cultural exchange in Argentina
Ebony Kennedy ’19 wins Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship
A double major in international relations and Hispanic studies, and one of Wheaton’s newest Fulbright scholars, Ebony Kennedy ’19 sees incredible value in learning languages and exploring other cultures.
And she has experienced a lot of the world in her short time at Wheaton—participating in study abroad programs in Nicaragua and Spain; teaching in Ghana and San Francisco; and interning with the Legal Aid Society in Cleveland, Ohio, and a law firm in her native New York City (she’s from Brooklyn).
“I was interested in a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Argentina because my experience with studying Spanish has taught me a lot about the value of fostering cross-cultural connections and exchanges of empathy. I think that empathy helps ground us,” Kennedy said.
She was drawn to Argentina in particular because of the country’s fascinating history and rich traditions, as well as the opportunity to work with college-age students, at a time when these young citizens are becoming increasingly engaged in political involvement and advocacy.
A Wheaton Posse Scholar, Kennedy said her decision to study Spanish at Wheaton has been a critical part of developing her own sense of global citizenship and civic responsibility.
“I am profoundly grateful to my Posse mentor, [Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies] Montserrat Perez, who played an integral role in my decision to major in Hispanic studies, to study abroad for two semesters and ultimately to apply for a Fulbright. Since the very beginning, Montse has seen my potential and has pushed me to take charge of my education and to think critically,” she said.
Kennedy also thanked Associate Professor of Theatre Stephanie Daniels, Professor of Sociology Hyun Kim and Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Francisco Fernández de Alba for their ongoing mentorship and support with her application.
The Wheaton senior currently serves as the 2019 Class Senator and on the 2019 Class Council, and previously worked as a peer advisor in the Center for Global Education. She also has been a member of the Dimple Divers improv group throughout her time at Wheaton—an experience that has provided its own unique education.
“During my time in the Divers, I have learned so much about being a supportive and patient teammate,” Kennedy said. “Through improv, I have become a better listener and a better friend. Moreover, I have learned to laugh at myself and to find the humor in every situation.”
In addition to her on-campus education, Kennedy has benefitted from several internships, including one with Summerbridge, a San Francisco-based program run by the national nonprofit Breakthrough Collaborative, which is working to expand educational resources for middle school students in low-income areas. Kennedy taught eighth grade literature and seventh grade debate and led a theater club for the organization.
“I constantly encouraged my students to connect what they were learning to their lives. They created journals mirroring the memoirs they were reading in class and wrote short poems and monologues about their cultures, families and experiences. Many of the lessons that I learned from my time at Breakthrough about being present, adaptive, persistent and curious stuck with me throughout my time at Wheaton and during my time abroad,” she said.
Kennedy sees her upcoming year of teaching English through a Fulbright as an opportunity to fortify the important skills and values she has developed in the past four years, and to build new relationships and experience more of the world.
“I’ve been lucky to have two impactful legal internships, both of which have shown me what a difference having a strong support system can make when navigating complex legal matters as a marginalized person,” she said. “While I am still deciding whether to pursue a legal career, I know that I want to spend my life working on projects that will help empower marginalized people.”