Lauren Bechtel '16, a sophomore at Houghton College majoring in intercultural studies with concentrations in both linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), is one of more than 700 American undergraduate students from 341 colleges and universities across the U.S. selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Bechtel was awarded $4,500 out of a maximum scholarship of $5,000 to study abroad in Tanzania with the Houghton in Tanzania program during the spring semester of the 2014 academic year.
“I have always had a passion for studying abroad, yet studying abroad adds an additional layer of financial commitment to education,” said Bechtel. “Receiving this scholarship frees me to appreciate, enjoy, and learn from this experience without the stress of the additional financial burden. I am honored to be selected as a Benjamin A. Gilman scholar, and I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
As part of the scholarship program, each recipient must complete a “Follow-on Service Project and Report” that promotes international education and the overall scholarship program. To satisfy this requirement, Bechtel will be returning to her alma mater high school in Lancaster, Pa., to present various study abroad opportunities that are available before and during college. Specifically, she will talk about studying in Tanzania with Houghton and the East Meets West honors program that she participated in, which included travels to the Balkans during May 2013. She also studied in Seville, Spain during the fall 2012 semester with a Gap Semester program.
Marcus Dean, chair for the department of intercultural studies commented, “Lauren Bechtel has demonstrated a vital interest in learning about other cultures by living with the people of the host culture. Prior to coming to Houghton College, she spent time in Spain studying and living with a host family. Along with her prior cultural experience and studies in intercultural studies she will put the same energy into her learning experience in Tanzania that she used to pursue the Gillman Scholarship. She will come back having invested herself and learned a great deal about life in Tanzania.”
The Gilman Scholarship Program aims to broaden the student population that studies overseas by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints. Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray eligible study abroad costs.
U.S. Rep. Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be contributors, rather than spectators, in the international community.”
To follow Bechtel’s Tanzania experience, please visit her blog at, http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/onegirlbigworld/3/tpod.html