Claire Derry ’19 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Moldova. She is one of six Colorado College Fulbright finalists this year.
Derry, a French and Francophone studies major minoring in history and Russian and Eurasian studies, says that as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Moldova, she plans to draw on her variety of experiences as a language learner.
“Through studying Russian and French, I understand how language learners operate at different levels,” she says. “Having navigated the differences between a Slavic and Romance language, I understand how English differs from these in aspects such as its verb and noun structures and its true and false cognates. I would be excited to bring this knowledge to my multilingual Moldovan students.
“Moldova’s combined Russian and Romanian language heritage would provide a fascinating intersection with my own language studies.”
Derry spent 10 years as a child dividing her time between Ithaca, New York, and Hawaii. “I did not grow up bilingual, but as a child in Hawaii, I understood how the words I used had different meanings depending on to whom I was speaking,” she says.
“Living and working in Moldova will help me understand how my experience compares to the experience of those living in a country where bilingualism is the norm. From my background studying Russian to speaking French as a second language, I hope to understand how Moldovans engage with this dual linguistic identity and how it shapes the way that we can express ourselves across cultures,” Derry says.
While in Moldova, an Eastern European country bordered by Romania to the west and Ukraine to the north, east, and south, Derry intends to be an involved member of the community and a dancer, as well a teacher. Having taken ballet for years, she intends to continue with ballet and also explore other styles of dance available in her host community. “I attended ballet classes in Russia and France where I found solidarity with other dance students as we navigated the complex exercises,” Derry says. “People are always excited to discuss their passions as well — I spoke for a long time with a Russian student about all of the ballets we loved and had performed. I have used my dance background to make meaningful connections, and I hope to spend my time in Moldova examining how our culture informs our perspectives on dance.”
Ultimately, says Derry, “I plan to combine my experience as a language learner and teacher to pursue further studies in applied linguistics. I wish to build on my formative passion for language, and I hope that working in Moldova will allow me share this passion with other students.”
Read about the other Colorado College Fulbright finalists.