Jefferson, N.J., resident wins World Affairs Forum Scholarship to study in Japan


Image: Erin TeelingErin Teeling of Jefferson, N.J., an international studies student at Fairfield University, received the 2003 Norman Woodbury Scholarship from the World Affairs Forum, enabling her to live out her dream of studying in Japan.

Teeling, who was the sole recipient of the $2,500 scholarship, will spend her fall semester in the Asian Studies program at Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata City, near Osaka. She will join 450 students from 35 nations in the Asian Studies program, the largest of its kind in Japan.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Teeling, a junior, who has never been out of the United States. "I started taking Japanese my junior year of high school and it was hard, but I loved it. This has been one of my goals for a long time."

Teeling, who is minoring in economics and Asian Studies, said she chose Kansai Gaidai because the Asian Studies program gives students freedom to choose from a variety of courses in the humanities, language, art, social sciences and business, all of which are taught in English. In her spare time, she hopes to immerse herself in Japanese culture in Hirakata City and Osaka, two of the largest cities in Japan.

"I think the way to really learn a language is to dive right into the society," said Teeling, who has also studied Spanish since high school.

Based in Stamford, Conn., the World Affairs Forum (WAF) serves Fairfield and Westchester counties as part of a national network of 85 world affairs councils. Established in 1946, the group promotes understanding of foreign policy issues and sponsors forums, internships and educational programs featuring leading diplomats, ambassadors and policy makers.

Anne LeBourgeois Grieves, WAF's education chair and a board member, said the scholarship selection committee was impressed by Teeling's academic performance, maturity and the deliberate way she has gone about her education. The fact that she took Japanese in high school also made her stand out.

"Erin saw an opportunity and she went for the opportunity," Grieves said. "And she's doing a very courageous thing. It takes a little more guts to go to a country like Japan as a first trip abroad, but Erin is very thoughtful about how she's going about the program. We think she'll make an excellent representative for our country and for the World Affairs Forum."

Teeling, a 2001 graduate of Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, N.J., is a Presidential Scholar who was on the Dean's List three out of her first four semesters at Fairfield. In addition to her studies, Teeling played on the Fairfield University softball team for two years and served as a Spanish and economics tutor during her sophomore year. She hopes to get involved in the Model United Nations upon returning from Japan.

After she finishes her studies at Fairfield, Teeling said she hopes to attend graduate school in the Washington, D.C. area and perhaps seek an internship in government, politics or economics.

Teeling should excel in her studies in Japan, according to Katherine Kidd, Ph.D., director of the International Studies program at Fairfield. Teeling is the first student to have taken Kidd's challenging Introduction to International Studies as a freshman. Her final paper considered how baseball has become part of Japanese culture and how the culture affects the sport, demonstrating Teeling's sophisticated understanding of Japanese society.

"She's creative and has a real intellectual curiosity," Dr. Kidd said. "She's well-disciplined and much more mature in her approach to things than many students her age. But she's also on the softball team and she's very down to earth. She's a true scholar-athlete."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 20, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 330