Class of 2012, Kalasin Province, Thailand

I began my time at Georgetown College steeped in certainty. As I eagerly began my first semester, I had no doubts concerning my vocation, what subjects I wanted to study, or what kind of student I wanted to be. Soon, however, I began to encounter new areas of study, and professors who opened doors to worlds I had never before been exposed to. I began to feel constricted as a secondary education major, and decided that I wanted more from my college experience. My advisor, Dr. Juilee Decker, encouraged me to pursue my passions, and aided me in creating a Cultural Studies area major. This major allowed me to take courses from a variety of fields, including art history, sociology, and political science. My professors awakened within me a passion for social justice and underrepresented populations, as well as a love for the incredible power of art as a tool to create mutual understanding and awareness. I pursued these passions as a part of my senior capstone project, in which I collaborated with Lexington-based artist Luella Pavey in conducting a mural and portraiture project with refugee students in Lexington.

Portia photo 200x133 Portia Watson

Portia Watson, Class of 2012, Kalasin Province, Thailand

My time spent as a student at Georgetown College also provided me with opportunities to travel and study abroad, further expanding my love for cross-cultural experiences. The passions I had cultivated while studying encouraged me to apply for a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship Grant to Thailand my senior year. My advisor and several other professors helped me with my application, lending their encouragement and support throughout the process. To my surprise, in March of 2011, I received an e-mail from Dr. Rosemary Allen congratulating me on being a Fulbright grant recipient and, within a few months after graduation, I boarded a plane to Thailand. I am now in my last few months of teaching in Thailand’s rural northeast and, I must say, it has been quite the adventure. As a part of my time here, I was able to volunteer with a non-profit called the Burmese Refugee Project, located in a mountain town not far from the Burma border. There, I was able to harp on my past experiences through photographing Shan Burmese children and learning their incredible stories. Though my grant period is quickly spiraling toward its end, I have recently accepted a fellowship with The Burmese Refugee Project for the upcoming year.