Erin Dalvini ’12 is the second Sweet Briar graduate in as many years to receive a 10-month Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Turkey. She is teaching at Amasya University in Amasya. Kat Alexander, a 2011 graduate in government, recently completed her assistantship in Trabzon, on the Black Sea in the country’s northeast.
Dalvini, who graduated from Sweet Briar in the spring with a degree in anthropology, has returned to a country she fell in love with on two previous visits. Her most recent experience there was on an eight-week Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department last summer.
Dalvini sought the State Department scholarship because she wanted an experience that would allow her to learn a language while “fully immersed in the society that it belongs to,” she said. The intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment program, which she attended at Ankara University TÖMER, provided just that, and affirmed her affection for Turkey and its people.
She didn’t speak a word of Turkish when she arrived, and her host mom spoke no English.
“It led to some pretty confusing, as well as hilarious, situations,” Dalvini says. “Despite the initial language barrier, we lived well together. She really took it upon herself to introduce me to her family and friends. These interactions allowed me to experience how open and hospitable Turks are with those who want to learn about their way of life.”
Those eight weeks made applying for the Fulbright a no-brainer and, she believes, made her a stronger contender for the prestigious grant.
“I loved the CLS experience — having to rely on myself and my new language skills to navigate through everyday life,” she said. “When I was in Turkey, every day was an adventure. Waking up in the morning and knowing that you are not going to understand most of what is being said around you is an experience like no other.”
Dalvini sees a career as a foreign service officer in her long-term future. For the moment, she’s not sure if she’ll pursue graduate school or the State Department as a first stop after the Fulbright.