KINGSWOOD GRADUATE EMMA DANAIS will be teaching in the Canary Islands as the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
July 22, 2021WOLFEBORO — Sen. J. William Fulbright started the program that bears his name back in 1945 with a mission to "bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."
Kingswood graduate Emma Danais will be looking to do all those things when she embarks on her own Fulbright Program to the Canary Islands.
"I'm very excited about it; it's a very big opportunity," Danais said.
Danais, who has received her Master's degree in Spanish K-12 and elementary education from the University of New Hampshire, is one of five UNH students receiving Fulbright offers out of 20 who applied. She will be heading to the Canary Islands off the coast of Spain to teach English to children in pre-kindergarten through second grade.
Danais studied abroad in Granada during her time at UNH, but she notes that this experience will definitely be different from that one.
"It's exciting, but this is different," she said. "I get to teach and bring what I know and also learn about them."
She will be teaching on the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife, in a suburb outside the capital city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife from September of this year until June of next year. The Fulbright Program gives her a stipend for her work and in addition to the work she does with the kids in the local schools, she also has to do a lot of research work.
"Technically, I am a cultural ambassador," she said, noting that the city where she will be teaching is the main entry point into Spain from Africa, so there is a diverse group of kids in the school.
And while the program will last for nine months, the work that went into applying and eventually being granted the Fulbright was an even longer process.
Danais notes that she was at home during the pandemic and got some e-mails from the UNH Fulbright advisor and in May of 2020 decided she would give it a shot. It took all the way until September of that year for her to finish the application process.
"It's a pretty long application process," she said. "There are multiple essays, it's very specific."
She also pointed out that the Fulbright Program has some interesting qualifiers, most notably, that if you have traveled too much, they don't take you, but they do want people who have traveled some in their lives, to know that they will be comfortable in a foreign country.
"There's a fine line," Danais said.
Once she submitted her application, she had to wait until January to find out if she passed the first round and then found out in April that she had been granted the Fulbright.
"I had applied for jobs, I had sent my resume out," she said. "I was thinking that I was going to be in New Hampshire. It's (Fulbright) hard to get.
"It's a really exciting opportunity, I was not expecting to get it," Danais said. "I'm still surprised I got it."
She did point out that her father, Mike, a teacher at Kingswood Regional Middle School, was confident she'd get it all along.
Danais noted that the program began as a way for Americans to appreciate other cultures after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, yet the things that it helps to foster are things that are still important today.
"We can't just only understand Americans," Danais said. "This is how we learn about other people and different cultures.
"People who apply don't apply lightly," she continued. "It's rewarding."
While Danais will spend the next school year in the Canary Islands, she said that her ideal situation, when the Fulbright Program comes to an end, is to teach Spanish to elementary age kids.
"It's important that kids start being exposed to different cultures and identities," she said. "If they're exposed to those things, it bridges the cultures."
She also offered her thanks and appreciation to the people who helped her to reach the point in her career where she could even think about applying for a Fulbright.
"I would not have gotten here without my parents or without Ms. (Kara) Jacobs (Kingswood Spanish teacher)," Danais said. "If she had not planted the seed of learning a language and the importance of it at the high school age, I would not have a Fulbright, I would not have a Spanish major and I would not have studied abroad.
"I am so thankful for her," she continued. "It goes to show the impact a teacher can have."
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.