BU GRADUATE CARRYING OUT FULBRIGHT TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIP IN GEORGIA
Dorothy Manevich, a spring 2014 graduate of Binghamton University, is a recipient of a Fulbright English-Teaching Assistantship. She currently resides in the country of Georgia and is teaching freshman-level English at Samtskhe-Javakheti State University.
Early in her college career, Dorothy was intrigued by the complexity of international relations questions such as: Why are some countries democracies while others are dictatorships? Why is unemployment as high as 40% in some countries and only 5% in others? She understood that "everything is a product of its history and exists within the confines of politics", so she sought out answers by pursuing majors in Political Science and History and a minor in French. She also participated in extracurricular activities that pertained to and explored international relations.
Dorothy noticed a lack of intercultural dialogue among the student body at Binghamton University, and she wanted to change this. In Fall 2012, Dorothy's peer Ben Sheridan had contacted the founder of Dorm Room Diplomacy (DRD) at University of Pennsylvania and asked her to join a group of like-minded students to start Binghamton Dorm Room Diplomacy. "The goal of DRD is to foster cross-cultural communication between students of diverse backgrounds and to create an infrastructure for international relations discourse." The club hosted international relations speakers series, published the "Binghamton Journal on Diplomacy and Security" and video-conferenced with students from the Middle East. Dorothy became President of the club in her Junior year and initiated DRD's bi-weekly roundtables, which serve as a forum for club members to discuss international relations topics.
Dorothy's vibrant enthusiasm for international relations also led her to participate in the SUNY JFEW International Relations and Global Affairs Program. The program connected her with an internship at United Nations University where she represented UNU in UN conferences and wrote policy and briefs for superiors at UNU. She also took classes with Dr. Dora Polachek and Dr. Stephen Ortiz, who encouraged her to "think bigger" and pursue her ambitions by applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
The country of Georgia was Dorothy's natural first choice of location when applying for the Fulbright because it was her parents' home country and she grew up hearing stories about the people and culture there. Given its political history, Georgia was also an interesting country for international relations studies. Georgia was occupied by the Soviet Union in the 1930's and only recently introduced democratic reforms. Dorothy wanted to examine how the country defines its national identity while balancing its delicate relations with Russia, the U.S., and Western Europe. In September 2014, she began the Fulbright program. Since then, she has been amazed by what she has learned from the Georgians regarding their thoughts about their country's international presence.
Since she arrived, Dorothy has experienced the hospitality and warmth that is characteristic of Georgian culture. "In general people are interested in who I am and why I am in Georgia. Several people asked...and then immediately commented: "Of course you would come to Georgia. This is the best place to live in the world.'" Dorothy is fully immersing herself in the country she will call home during the nine-month Fulbright program duration, especially when it comes to new cuisines. "I don't think I've been fed more delicious food in my life than my first two weeks here."
Dorothy's stay with her host family has enabled an exchange of American and Georgian cultures, benefiting both sides. She quickly assimilated to her host family, who have been particularly welcoming. She is treated like another member of the family and helps clean and cook. Dorothy practices Georgian and Russian with her host brother and she helps him to learn English. When October 31st came around , Dorothy painted her face with whiskers and a cat nose for class. Her host family, who never celebrated Halloween before, surprised her with a pumpkin, which they later carved and named Robbie.
Aside from spending time with her host family, Dorothy exudes most of her energy in the classroom. She teaches students of all levels studying English language. During her second week at the university, she was observing an upper-level English course when the professor unexpectedly suggested she take over the rest of the two-hour class. She says of the unexpected request: "Luckily I had some activities in my back pocket. I'm definitely getting better at thinking on my feet." She now proposes her own lesson plans, and in one lesson, she shared her love of spoken-word poetry through showing her class a YouTube video of "Memory Sucks" by Beau Sia. The class defined new vocabularies and analyzed the poem to understand its tone and meaning. In the future, Dorothy hopes to integrate discussions on American politics into her lessons to expose her students to international relations. "I'll be covering today's most salient domestic and foreign policy issues in the US. I'm looking forward to it."
Dorothy is currently unsure of her post-Fulbright plans but is considering various options including seeking out employment in public policy research or pursuing a Master's degree in International Political Economy or Russian and Eurasian studies. Her ultimate goal is to work in the State Department or for a think-tank.
Article Written by: Christina Huang, '16