Washington and Lee University senior Kendré Barnes, of Omaha, Neb., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Panama.
The ETA will give Barnes the opportunity to teach English at a university and work with a non-profit that specializes in alleviating childhood poverty in Panama's most impoverished regions. "I knew that I needed to take some time off before graduate school in order to see if I want to pursue a university-level teaching career in the future," Barnes said.
She chose Panama for a variety of reasons. "I have a particular academic interest in questions concerning race, identity, poverty and the experience of diaspora and marginalized communities in the literature of the Spanish-speaking world. Panama seemed like the perfect place for me to pursue my intellectual interests while gaining teaching experience."
Teaching English abroad has appealed to Barnes for a long time. "As an English and Spanish major, I believe teaching English is more than just instructing someone about the linguistic and grammatical rules," she said. "Rather, teaching English is about exposing the world to the various people, perspectives and voices that make up the 'United States experience,' which is part of a larger American (North, Central and South) and global story. In my opinion, literature is the most illuminating and perceptive way to do this."
"Kendré will enrich her classroom teaching with cultural expression from the U.S.," said Matthew Bailey, professor of Romance Languages. "Her love for literature and music will enable her to share a wide range of American cultural expressions with her students, from African-American writers to a wide variety of traditional and popular music. The cultural component that Kendré will bring to the classroom will no doubt generate enthusiasm and a deeper curiosity for American culture."
Barnes lived in Buenos Aires during the summer of 2012, as a Shepherd Alliance Intern, learning about the country's poverty and assisting families who come to the city for medical treatment. She also taught English classes to women and children there. As a peer counselor at W&L, she aids first years during the transition period from high school to college, providing an ear for students during times of crisis. She also participated in Green Dot Bystander Training to help the campus lower the rate of sexual assaults and to demonstrate a commitment to speaking out against such violations.
Barnes belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa, serves as co-chair of the Nabors Service League and has received the John Rugel Memorial Scholarship, Henry Louis Smith Scholarship, Barritt-Williams Prize in Spanish, Johnson Opportunity Grant and the Wornom Award for Distinguished Critical Writing from the English Department. During Spring Term 2013, she currently is a WLUR DJ presenting "The Flamenco Hour."
"Kendré's work with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at W&L has allowed her to show how she would approach teaching, especially the methods she would use to help gain the trust and attention of impoverished and marginalized students," said Bailey. "For her post-Fulbright plans, teaching at the university level in Panama, and continuing her work with children in poverty, will be invaluable experiences that will continue to shape her life."