There are quite a few graduating seniors who are planning to venture outside the
United States next year. Three graduating seniors, in particular, Sarah Rubinstein, Ben Scrimshaw, and Fundi Fihlani, will all be teaching abroad after graduation. For some, it is a break from undergrad, a time to figure out what to do next. For others it is returning home.
In Fihlani’s case, South Africa is where she was born and she will be returning there after graduation to teach. Rubinstein will return to France, where she studied abroad for her junior year. And Scrimshaw will return to Vietnam, where he studied the summer following his freshmen year. While each is going to a different country and for different motivations, they are all lured back to a country they have connections with.
Fihlani’s connection may run deeper than others. In South Africa is her entire family, including her son. She came to Goucher through a scholarship available through the Office of International Studies. Now, she is among one of those students who came to teach at her high school. She said, “I only came here to study.” She had no plans to stay, but after having taught in both Baltimore and South Africa she said, “when comparing the two, yes there is a need for good teachers here, but also there is a need for teachers in South Africa as well. Especially when it comes to special education teachers.” She hopes to help spread the message of special education to other teachers even though there is no formalized system. And of course another influence to return home is that “you don’t get any snow in South Africa. That’s one motivator.”
Rubinstein is teaching English to primary school children through the Nantes Académie. The program she is using is called the Teaching Assistants Program In France, which is run through the French government. On making this decision she said, “I don’t want to go directly to grad school and I don’t know really what I want to do.” She studied abroad in Paris and knew that during that time “I grew up a lot and became more independent.” While she had a positive experience living abroad, she was also inspired by her sister whom is currently living abroad in Berlin. She might be scared to find housing on her own, but being in the same time zone as her sister is comforting. Going back to this place will help her reflect on what her next steps might be, all while drinking wine, eating cheese, and meeting “silly French children.”
Scrimshaw is teaching for a program called Princeton in Asia.
He describes himself as someone who likes to travel and move around a lot, so he knew early on that this is what he wanted to do after graduation. While he originally applied for a position in China, Laos, or Cambodia, he was just as pleased with Vietnam. “I originally didn’t put Vietnam on my list of places … but they offered me a job in Vietnam and I took it in a second.” Because he visited Vietnam before, he wanted “something new.” As he remembers the time he spent there previously, he is also excited to see his old friends again and to navigate the world of education. Scrimshaw said, “I just figured out how hard it’s actually going to be.” To alleviate this initial fear, he plans on taking language courses.
Each of these Goucher students has their own unique excitements and fears as they speak about their impending travels, but their commitment to their own education and the education of others is clear. Fihlani aims to expand the understanding of special education, but also to strike a balance between English and the mother tongue. Rubinstein switched majors from psychology and studio art to French and Gender Studies. This shift influenced her decision to go abroad and to increase her fluency. Each student will have their own experience driven by the common goal to return to places that once, and still do, mean so much to them.
As Scrimshaw concluded “I don’t know what to expect, so I’m not trying to put it into words or thoughts.” The post graduation life is scary with so many possibilities at hand. These students from Goucher embraced those possibilities and seek to expand them in three different corners of the globe.