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Emily Pleadwell awarded Fulbright, Manchester’s 30th 

Emily PleadwellEmily Pleadwell felt drawn to Vietnam after teaching English as a second language to Vietnamese domestic violence survivors last summer at Interval House in southern California. She got that opportunity through the Pathways summer service program at Manchester University.

She now has the opportunity to spend a year in Vietnam after being awarded a prestigious Fulbright grant.

Since 1996, 30 Manchester students have been awarded Fulbrights for research or teaching abroad after graduation – more Fulbrights per capita than any other Indiana college or university. In addition, two Manchester faculty members have engaged in research abroad as Fulbright Scholars.

“Manchester really prepared me for this opportunity through the opportunities I’ve had outside of class,” Pleadwell said via Skype from Strasbourg, France, where she is studying this semester.

She has done service work three times at Interval House — two summers and a January session – and spent a summer volunteering in France.

In her Fulbright application, Pleadwell wrote about her ESL clients in Long Beach. Two of the Vietnamese students were advanced and one was at a very basic level, having just come to the U.S. with her daughter two months before.

“Based on my work with these women, I already have an idea of what sounds my future students will have difficulties with,” Pleadwell said, describing strategies she has in mind “for addressing the voiced, interdental fricatives that pose problems for Vietnamese speakers” when speaking English.

On one occasion her students stopped the class after learning Pleadwell hadn’t eaten a proper meal and called for a five-minute break to share the pho they had eaten for dinner. “Pho became a favorite immediately, and I often went with friends to Vietnamese restaurants to try new foods,” she said. “Dipping my chopsticks into the bowl, I never knew if I was going to pull up a piece of lemongrass or something even more exotic like tripe, fish ball, or tendon. I grew to love culinary adventure. I am ready for more adventure in Vietnam.”

Her goal afterward is to return to southern California to assist the Vietnamese in “Little Saigon,” the largest Vietnamese population outside the Southeast Asia nation. Pleadwell will also explore options for working in an embassy that would require proficiency in French and Vietnamese.

The Lawrence, Mich., woman has had rich experiences at Manchester.

“In 2014, I volunteered for 11 weeks in France with only a semester of language study. I did everything from herding sheep to cleaning a moat, running a cash register, and creating crowdfunding pages.” Pleadwell said her biggest challenge was answering the phone because of the language barrier.

Over time, she developed an “addiction” to language learning, which has seen her through advanced courses in Spanish and French, and beginning German.

“My time in France and my experience volunteering in Southern California demonstrate my ability to function in areas that are far from the Midwest,” she said. “I am not afraid of being abroad in Vietnam for 10 months because I love how much personal growth can occur away from where we identify as home.”

She’s especially grateful to the advisors she’s had at MU — Jim Falkiner (now retired Mark E. Johnston Professor of Entrepreneurship) was her first-year advisor. “You’re going to do something awesome. I just know it,” he told her.

She also thanked current faculty members Tim Brauch, her second-year advisor, Stacy Erickson-Pesetski and Janina Traxler for their mentoring and helping her hone her writing and language skills.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States. Grant recipients represent their nation as a cultural ambassador, helping to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and the people in their host nation.

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of undergraduate study, two master's programs (athletic training and pharmacogenomics) and a professional doctorate in pharmacy to 1,500 students from 25 states and 17 countries.

March 2016