Fulbright Scholar Fosters Cross-Cultural Learning

BUFFALO, NY – Aryn Keyel, of Victor, NY, is Canisius College’s most recent recipient of a J. William Fulbright Scholarship. Named for Senator J. William Fulbright, it is the U.S. government’s premier scholarship program designed to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges. The Fulbright program provides recipients with tuition, fees, travel and research funds for up to one year. Keyel will use her scholarship to participate in an English Teaching Assistantship in Malta.

“By learning English, Maltese children will be better prepared to build social, economic or political connections within their country and beyond,” says Keyel, who is currently pursuing her certification in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). “Furthermore, through immersion in Maltese culture, I will better understand the attributes unique to their country that affect education and how I can assist future students with their interpersonal and intercultural development.”

As a way for students to experience language and culture, simultaneously, Keyel will create a modern pen pal program during her 10 months in Malta. Students from a Maltese school will be paired with American students at Westminster Community Charter School, where Keyel is currently employed. All students will read the same English-language book and then, via video chat, American and Maltese students will discuss what they read in English. “This will give students the opportunity to learn and connect with their peers in another country.”

Keyel’s interest in cross-cultural education originated during her undergraduate years at Canisius. While studying abroad in the Philippines, she volunteered with the UNICEF Mobile Education program, which brings school supplies, instructional materials and instructors to teach children who live in some of the most remote areas of developing countries.

“These students never missed an opportunity to learn something new or to express their appreciation for the time we had to spend with them,” recalls Keyel. “They reminded me of the power of learning to better oneself, which inspired me to pursue a career in education.”

Keyel graduated from Canisius College in 2013 with dual degrees in communication studies and religious studies. She is grateful to Christopher R. Lee, PhD, her former religious studies professor and director of graduate fellowships, for his unwavering guidance.

“Dr. Lee encouraged me throughout the Fulbright process and during my time at Canisius,” says Keyel. “He pushed me to be better in everything and I couldn’t have received this Fulbright without him.”

Her scholarship brings the total number of Fulbrights awarded to Canisius students or alumni to 37, since 1987.

One of 28 Catholic, Jesuit colleges in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York.