DALLAS (SMU) – SMU graduating senior Hena Rafiq has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award to work for nine months in Kosovo’s capitol city of Pristina.
After earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in human rights and political science at SMU May 14, Rafiq will head to Kosovo in September to teach English at an all-girls secondary school as well as the High School of Linguistics. The Irving, Texas, native also hopes to volunteer for the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) while living in the recovering war-torn region.
“The Fulbright ETA opportunity is especially meaningful,” Rafiq says. “Since the country is split by ethnic lines, students often are taught either Albanian or Serbian. But if the Kosovo conflicts are ever to be resolved, English will be needed for negotiations. That’s why I’ll be glad to play even a small role in helping make that happen.”
Receiving the Fulbright ETA Award underscores “that study-abroad trips pay off, since one often leads to another,” Rafiq says. Encouraged by SMU professors Rick Halperin (human rights), Pamela Corley (political science) and Rita Kirk (communications), “I’ve experienced life-changing learning opportunities” in Washington, D.C., Costa Rica, Australia and beyond.
While studying in Copenhagen, for instance, a weeklong humanitarian law and armed conflict class in Kosovo “led me to fall in love with both the country and its people,” she says.
“Looking back at my time at SMU, I’m grateful to have been able to absorb as many different cultures as possible,” Rafiq says. “That really gave me the courage to apply for a Fulbright – something I never imagined I would achieve.”
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