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GREAT BARRINGTON, MA—Ann Burchfield, a Bard College at Simon’s Rock graduating senior and linguistics major, was recently awarded one of only 24 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to Taiwan. The Fulbright—America’s flagship exchange program—fosters international research and collaboration, and funds scholars who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential.

“Even though I have never spent more than a day outside of the United States,” Burchfield reports, “languages have been my window into other cultures.” The Fulbright will allow the Uvalde, Texas resident to travel to Yilan County, in northern Taiwan, where she will teach English to elementary school children and deepen her command of the Chinese language, “in a way that would be impossible at home.”

After taking courses in Chinese and Arabic at Simon’s Rock, her passion for linguistics surfaced—an interest that went beyond syntax and embodied a global purpose. While Burchfield discovered her love of linguistics in college, she believes it’s crucial to engage people at a younger age. “Students are not able to study these languages until college, when they are far past the age when language is easily acquired,” she explains. For this reason, and because of her sense of the vital importance of Arabic language learning in a post 9/11 world, Burchfield developed a user-friendly, Arabic language textbook for elementary aged children as her Bard College at Simon’s Rock senior thesis project.

The Fulbright assistantship—which will fund Burchfield’s year-long work and studies abroad—allows the Simon’s Rock graduate a chance to continue “breaking down language barriers,” and to expand her cultural fluency in an increasingly global community.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 270,000 participants with an opportunity to observe each others' political, economic, educational, and cultural institutions, to exchange ideas, and to embark on joint ventures of importance to the general welfare of the world.

For more information, or to speak with Ann Burchfield, please contact 413-644-4706.