La Salle University graduate Emily Apisa has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) fellowship and will teach English at a college in Turkey for nine months beginning this fall.
“For the ETA, you could only apply to one country. I picked Turkey for a few reasons,” said Apisa, who accomplished a double major in Communication and English at La Salle. “First of all, fluency was not required in the host country’s language. Also, I think that Turkey is an important country right now. It is a 99 percent Muslim country that has a successful secular and democratic government. Turkey is not only a geographical bridge from the Western world to the Middle East, but it is also a political one, as well.”
She will teach at Afyon Kocatepe University in Afyonkarahisar, located in western Turkey.
Apisa said she worked closely with Claire Busse, an English professor and Assistant Director of La Salle’s Honors program, to complete the application process, which included her writing two essays. “After the documents were submitted, a committee of La Salle faculty interviewed me. From that interview, the faculty could recommend or not recommend me for a Fulbright,” said Apisa. “In January, I made the first cut of applicants and was supposed to hear back in the spring about whether I received the grant or not. It took a little longer than expected, but finally (on) June 30 I was e-mailed an acceptance.”
“I was a little shocked because after months of not hearing from the Fulbright program I assumed I wasn’t going to get the grant. I was also a little nervous because the current political climate of southeastern Turkey is shaky. Syrian refugees are seeking refuge across the border. I did a little research on the school and town I’ve been assigned, and that’s when I could start picturing myself there. Now I’m just excited to see what this next year brings,” she said.
Huntly Collins, a La Salle Communication professor who taught Apisa in two courses, said, “When she applied for the Fulbright in Turkey, the Arab Spring was just unfolding across the Middle East. I encouraged her application as an invaluable opportunity to immerse herself in the only democracy in the region, one that might serve as a role model for the countries now throwing off authoritarian rule.”
Collins also said, “Emily has an inquiring mind, a commitment to social justice and an ability to communicate her ideas through both words and visual images. She also has guts — the courage to express unpopular ideas. Her students in Turkey will be getting the best of both worlds — a teacher who is also a student engaged in lifelong learning.”
Apisa concentrated on journalism and writing in her majors and wrote for La Salle’s student newspaper, the Collegian, for four years. This past semester she interned at Philadelphia City Paper and will continue to work there until August. Last summer, she interned at the Courier-News, a daily newspaper in central New Jersey.
“I picked La Salle because I wanted to be in a city and because I wanted a strong journalism program,” said Apisa. “My experience was great. I tried to be as involved as possible while still maintaining grades that I was proud of (her GPA was 3.76).”
Outside the classroom, Apisa was a writing tutor at La Salle and helped build homes in Mandeville, La., as part of Habitat for Humanity following her sophomore year.
“Journalism has always been ‘the plan,’ but I wouldn’t be opposed to other avenues where I could use my writing skills,” said Apisa. “I think journalism has always appealed to me because each article gives you the chance to talk to someone new and see something you haven’t seen before. As a Teaching Assistant in Turkey, I will be not only exposing myself to, and immersing myself in, a culture I’ve yet to experience.”