Southeast Student Awarded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for Study Abroad



CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 8, 2013 — September Hinkle of Fredericktown, Mo., a secondary education English major at Southeast Missouri State University, has been selected to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to participate in a study abroad program during the spring 2013 academic term.

In spring 2013, Hinkle will complete her capstone requirement, two eight-week student teaching internships, the second of which will be done in Tokyo, Japan, at the Columbia International School.

While in Japan, Hinkle looks forward to experiencing the culture first hand and learning everything she can from the experience. “Visiting a place is much different than reading about it or looking at it in a picture. I hope to broaden my horizons and ways of thinking by experiencing a place that is vastly different than where I grew up. By experiencing differences and incorporating them into our own lives and thoughts we grow as individuals,” said Hinkle.

“Student teaching abroad offers a wide array of opportunities and knowledge that you couldn’t gain in Missouri,” she said. “There are many things we can learn from other people and cultures, and the best way to do that is to go somewhere to experience how people think differently. I wouldn’t trade my education or experience in Missouri for anything, especially at Southeast Missouri State University, but there are more people and places to experience and a wider array of knowledge to be gained.

Hinkle said she also is interested in learning about different education systems.

“I think it is important to experience the many different ways of education and continue to improve our current system. That isn’t to say our education system is better or worse than Japan’s, but there is always room for improvement. I have lived in and studied Missouri’s education system. Going to Japan gives me the opportunity to see how other systems work and how education is approached differently than in Missouri and even the United States.”

Upon her return to the United States, Hinkle plans to pursue a career in public schools, helping students grow in their appreciation of the English language. She also plans to begin work on a master’s degree in English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), after which she plans to travel overseas to teach during summers.

“I love the English language and want to help others learn and enjoy it,” Hinkle said. “People from other cultures can learn many things from one another; therefore, I hope to be a lifelong student by learning from other people and places.”

She also plans to initiate several projects upon her return. One is a pen pal exchange among students she has taught in Missouri and those she will encounter in Japan.

In this way, she said, “I hope to spread understanding and acceptance about a culture that many people might be unaware of, as well as a thirst for knowledge of other cultures, which will motivate people to step out of their own comfort zones.”

Hinkle also hopes to give presentations to Cadet Teaching clubs to share her experiences teaching in Japan, as well as giving workshops to teacher education organizations in Southeast’s College of Education, such as the Student Missouri State Teacher’s Association (SMSTA) and Kappa Delta Pi, an education honorary, which would inform them about the opportunities to student teach abroad and financial support that the Gilman scholarship provides to pursue these opportunities.

In preparation for her international experience, Hinkle said she enrolled in a study abroad seminar, taught by Dr. Jean Benton, during which she studied the country she would be in and completed research to further her understanding of the country which she would be visiting.

“Being informed and proactive is the best way to prepare for any experience. After you take away the element of the unknown you are left with the excitement of a once in the lifetime opportunity,” she said.

Hinkle is one of more than 1,000 outstanding American undergraduate students from almost 400 colleges and universities across the United States selected for the scholarship. Since the establishment of the Gilman International Scholarship Program by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, more than 13,000 students nationwide have received this prestigious award. Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

Recipients of the scholarship have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector. According to IIE President Allan Goodman, “International education is one of the best tools for developing mutual understanding and building connections between people from different countries. It is critical to the success of American diplomacy and business, and the lasting ties that Americans make during their international studies are important to our country in times of conflict as well as times of peace.”