Hometown: Gales Ferry, Conn.
Beyond HWS: Gionet has been awarded a Fulbright to teach English and mathematics in Vietnam
Trevor Gionet ‘12 has been selected to receive a Fulbright Teaching Assistant grant to Vietnam. This highly competitive program chose just 10 students from across the country to receive a position in Vietnam. In addition to teaching English at a collegiate level, Gionet will learn to teach math–in Vietnamese.
“You often think of math as a universal language, but it’s not necessarily true; learning mathematical terminology in other languages is very difficult,” explains Gionet, a mathematics major. “I’ve talked with many Vietnamese students who have found that their math classes are some of the hardest in terms of translation. I hope to help bridge that gap for students in the future.”
Gionet was inspired to select Vietnam for study abroad by his cousin, Dale Watkins ’09, who studied there as a student at Hobart and who went on to receive a Princeton-in-Asia grant to return to teach English. Watkins now lives in Ho Chi Minh City where he is the manager of commercial leasing for Colliers International Vietnam. “I needed to see what made my cousin fall in love with this country,” says Gionet. “I needed to experience that.”
Despite his lifelong interest in Eastern culture and tradition, Gionet was surprised by how truly at home he felt thousands of miles from the States. Soon after beginning his term abroad, Gionet found himself with a part-time job, working to harvest rice on a farm.
“Three days a week I took an hour long bus ride, then got off and walked half an hour to a family farm,” explains Gionet. “I formed a lasting relationship with the family that owned the farm. They became my Vietnamese family. They showed me a deep, human connection, stripped of language, appearances and culture.”
The experience was a formative one - showing Gionet the true hospitality of the Vietnamese people. It was that compassion that informed his decision to apply for the Fulbright grant, giving him the opportunity to travel back to Vietnam and return the same kindnesses that were bestowed upon him.
“I didn’t feel like I was done in Vietnam,” says Gionet. “I want to be able to help, to give back, and to demonstrate the hospitality and consideration that they share with everyone.”
Following his return to the country after the Fulbright Teaching Assistant program, Gionet hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in math with the specific intention of teaching bilingual mathematics to Vietnamese students.