Holly Belkot '13
International Studies—Developing World Studies, History
At only six years old, Holly Belkot ’13 already had saved up for a giant map of the world.
“When it arrived in the mail, it was just as grand as I had imagined,” she recalled. “On the floor, I laid it out, absorbing the scene. My state, Pennsylvania, seemed unimpressive. I searched. ‘Where is my house?’ I was overwhelmed, but intrigued.”
In the years since, her map has inspired her to explore, ask questions and remember that we all occupy a very small space on the planet.
She’ll be packing that map in a suitcase soon. Along with fellow international studies major Bridget Burns, Belkot is one of two members of Susquehanna University’s Class of 2013 to be awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship for 2013–14. She has been invited to teach English in Macau, China.
“I have a profound interest in exploring and experiencing other cultures and locations,” she said. “And this seemed like a perfect way to continue my research, while at the same time gaining work experience and networking on an international collegiate and diplomatic level.”
She applied for the competitive award at the urging of Associate Professor of History Catherine Cymone Fourshey, who also serves as Susquehanna’s faculty coordinator for postgraduate advising and director of the international studies program. As sophomores, Belkot and Burns had studied abroad with Fourshey in the Gambia, West Africa.
“The reason I applied for the Fulbright grant was because of the gentle pushing of my advisor and mentor, Dr. Cymone Fourshey,” said Belkot. “I would not have even considered it without her reassurances, knowing how competitive and recognized Fulbright was. I wanted to study in Macau in college, but ultimately decided to study in the Gambia for a semester. Applying for a Fulbright in Macau was a great way of using my language background, as well as fulfilling my desire to live and work in Asia.”
During the lengthy application and interview process, Belkot said she never thought she’d actually get the award. “Receiving my letter of acceptance into the program validated and reinforced to me personally that my education and efforts were valued and had paid off with amazing opportunities for advancement,” she said.
Belkot has also been offered an opportunity to work as a Peace Corps volunteer within the organization’s Health Extension. “Regardless of which I choose, I am very excited for what my future entails,” she said. “I have been blessed with an amazing support structure in my family, mentors, professors and friends who have challenged and believed in me.”
Wherever she travels, she plans to pack the map. “I will take with me ‘my big map’ as a reminder that while I am only one person, I will meet, interact, eat, sing, laugh, travel, learn and teach with many people who also once may have looked at a map and thought, ‘Where is my house?’”
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