Posted on Friday, April 10, 2009
The Princeton-in-Asia (PiA) Program recently announced that the Colleges' very own Dale Watkins '09 is one of its 2009 recipients. As such, Watkins will travel to one of the program's designated locations in Vietnam, where he will teach conversational English to college students.
While abroad, Watkins will help to fulfill PiA's mission statement, "To promote good will and understanding and to facilitate in every way the free interchange of the best ideals in the civilizations of both the East and West." This year, the program named 84 other teaching fellows in addition to 40 fellowships in journalism, international development and business.
In all of these fellowships, PiA has provided transformative, service-oriented experiences for talented graduates and serves the needs of Asia as determined by PiA's Asian partners since it was established in the 1890s.
For Watkins, that experience will come in the form of his teaching fellowship in either Can Tho or Rach Gia, rural cities in Vietnam. Although he doesn't yet know where he'll be, Watkins is sure that he is in for the experience of a lifetime. "Despite my initial apprehension, I've realized that this experience is more than just an opportunity for me to teach in a country that I've grown to love," he explained. "I'll be able to interact on a person-to-person basis with Vietnamese young adults who are about my age."
He added that, "I'll have a peer relationship with my students that will allow me to understand their backgrounds, life and situation in Vietnam much better."
Along with this personable rapport, Watkins also brings years of experience with the country. After spending a semester abroad in Hanoi during his junior year, he returned this past summer to a country he grew to love, personally and academically. "In the summer of 2008, I went back as a part of the Rustic Pathways Program, a travel program for students," Watkins explained. "We spent time in Thailand as well as Vietnam, doing community service in both countries."
Watkins continues, saying that, "In addition to leading students, I also spent two weeks on my own, doing program development for the program using my knowledge of the culture and the language. During that solo time, I became even more immersed in both."
After returning to the States, Watkins was inspired to return. "After my Rustic Pathways experience, I was forced into two experiences while in Vietnam. First, I had to work in Vietnam, which showed me the business side of the country. Second, I was forced to work in rural areas, which exposed me to the poverty and realism of the country beyond what's typically shown to Westerners."
As one of the 2009 Princeton-in-Asia Teaching Fellows, Watkins will be able to do something to help and become even more of a part of a country that he loves so dearly.
In addition to his devotion to Vietnam, Watkins has also dedicated himself to New Orleans. In total, he has made eight trips to New Orleans, beginning in his first year at HWS. The recipient of The Right Reverend Robert Claflin Rusack ’47 Scholarship and The Harold C. P. Wilmerding ’92 Memorial Scholarship, he is an urban studies major with a sociology minor.
Outside of the classroom, Watkins is a member of the inaugural Leadership Certification Program class. He has also been an active member of the community, volunteering in America Reads and Jumpstart throughout his time at the Colleges. In addition, he is one of two student workers who plays an integral role in the Centennial Center for Leadership. He is also a member of Chi Phi fraternity.