Alumni commissioned to teach worldwide

Rebecca Troescher

by: Laila McKinley and Rebecca Troescher, staff reporters

Four notable individuals from the Seattle Pacific University community are extending their gifts of knowledge and compassion to countries worldwide.

Having graduated from SPU, the four alumni received honorary grants from the Fulbright Commision, a program that awards graduated students around the nation an international trip to any country of choice in order to teach english and conduct research with all expenses paid.

The program lasts for one year, is highly competitive, yet offers a life-changing opportunity to those selected.

Among the recipients of this award were SPU alumni David Dovgopoly (‘15) studying in Ukraine, Rachel Long (‘18) teaching in Kyrgyzstan, Abby Jensen (‘18) teaching in Jordan and Rachel Weeks (‘16) teaching in Laos.

Long, Jensen and Weeks are English teaching assistants who work in local schools of their chosen country and aim to integrate and assist with the english language into the education.

In an interview with the Response magazine, the SPU women acknowledge the University’s support and guidance with the application process for the Fulbright scholarship. It was successfully completed with ease and gained them an experience that changed their lives.

Alum Rachel Weeks personally shared with The Falcon her life-changing experience in Laos, which she explains resembles the country of Thailand, where she studied abroad four years ago as a third year student at SPU.

Her international work is greatly supported by her family.

Their support reflects itself in her younger brother, Alex, who was adopted by the family from Ukraine. Weeks admits that he planted within her “the first seeds of international travel” and the motivation to carry her work to others in foreign countries.

Weeks also adds that her international missions are fueled by her love for history, public relations and politics, which she studied while at SPU.

As Weeks reflected on her experience, she highlighted the ways in which it has impacted her life thus far. On a light-hearted note, she admitted how she’s now an “ethusticatic cyclist,” biking to and from work everyday, regardless of the weather.

Furthermore, she shares that her appreciation for Lao food — including Papaya salad, sticky rice, Laab, and sinda BBQ — has grown immensely.

In addition, Weeks pointed out Laos’ keen attention to American policies, decisions, life and even popular culture, which assisted her in the classroom as she incorporated Ariana Grande and Beyonce into entertaining classroom lessons.

On a deeper note, Weeks noted on the endless forgiveness and hospitality she feels when working in Laos.

To elaborate more on what she meant, she explained that during the Vietnam war, the United States dropped more bombs on Laos than any other country in history. Its impact left regions uninhabitable and people vulnerable, yet she received nothing but respect and kindness.

“I am welcomed even though I am a foreigner to their country,” said Weeks, who cherishes the connections built from their friendliness. Their hospitality allowed her to see a deeper side of Laos that she was once unfamiliar with.

After time spent in Laos, Weeks shared that, “the best part of my job has been the acceptance and trust I have been given.” From such kindness, her own life is impacted, and she recognizes that “[it] is a gift [she] never expected, and has changed [her] life for the better.”

All four SPU alumni, with the honor granted to them by the Fulbright Commision, received a life-changing experience that presented to them an opportunity to impact lives while impacting their own in the process