Gilman Scholarship Recipient Advises Local CHamoru Youth Following Month in Berlin

 Vicente Blas Taijeron '24 is pictured outside of the Bode-Museum in Berlin, Germany, on July 16, 2022, as part of his Gilman International Scholarship program. Photo submitted by Vicente Blas Taijeron.
Vicente Blas Taijeron '24 is pictured outside of the Bode-Museum in Berlin, Germany, on July 16, 2022, as part of his Gilman International Scholarship program. Photo submitted by Vicente Blas Taijeron.

After spending a month in Germany studying marginalized communities through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Vicente Blas Taijeron '24, a Feminist and Gender Studies major and Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies minor, and incoming student body president, is back in Colorado and working to increase access to higher education for CHamoru* youth.

Blas Taijeron was awarded the scholarship last Spring. The scholarship allowed Blas Taijeron to study in Berlin, Germany, in June 2022. He participated under the direction of Heidi R. Lewis, the David and Lucile Packard Professor and associate professor of feminist and gender studies, who taught the 15-person class abroad. Their class focused on intersectionality and how it occurs in Berlin among marginalized groups such as Afro-Germans, Turkish Germans, and Jewish Germans.

Following the study abroad, awardees are required to complete a service project to promote the ideas they learned and gained during the study abroad project. Blas Taijeron decided to return home and use his experience to help his community.

“As a follow-up to my studies in Berlin and learning about the marginalized there, I have chosen to participate in programs that help me more thoughtfully examine the marginalized in my own community and how the disparities of colonialism done unto my people have affected their ability to attain education,” says Blas Taijeron.

Blas Taijeron is now working with CHamoru Pathways through Higher Education, which works to give CHamoru youth mentorship and access to assistance with college applications. He is helping the collective to host a virtual webinar in October that will have panels of undergraduate and graduate CHamoru students talking about their experiences navigating higher education.

“I thought that this scholarship would allow me to both seek out a new adventure while also learning about new cultures and the complexities of societies outside of the United States,” says Blas Taijeron. But he has a hard time picking his favorite moment in Berlin because the entire experience was so incredible. “When I was roaming the streets of Berlin after class, I would often think to myself, ‘wow, I'm actually here.’ It just made me feel so grateful for the opportunity and it allowed me to see that there are a wealth of opportunities at our fingertips to help us attain new experiences that allow us to break barriers and grow.”

CC helped Blas Taijeron prepare for and win this scholarship in numerous ways. The Office of Global Education and Field Study, specifically Heather Powell Browne, assistant director of Global Education, helped Blas Taijeron draft and revise his application to create a strong statement that accurately portrayed his interest in the program.

“Additionally, classes I took in the Race, Ethnicity, and Migration Studies Department allowed me to think more thoughtfully about studying in places in a more respectful and conscious manner,” he says.

The Gilman International Scholarship is federally funded through the U.S. Department of State for PELL grant recipients and promotes cultural exchange through study abroad. The program states that it works to expand the U.S. student population abroad, which helps more Americans gain the professional skills, language abilities, and knowledge of the world needed to have successful careers. Over 41,000 scholarships have been awarded since the program began in 2001.

Blas Taijeron, who also serves as the student trustee on CC’s board, was one of six CC students selected this year for the Gilman International Scholarship.

* CHamoru are Indigenous people of the Mariana Islands. Today, many CHamoru people live in Hawaii, California, and Oregon.


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