Teaching Beyond Borders

Nearing the end of her senior year, Jillian Andresen '15 was unsure of her path following graduation, but her study abroad experiences in Chile (2013) and Brazil (2014) had her eager to return to South America.

Throughout her college career at Saint Ben's, Jillian developed a passion for teaching and community involvement. "Saint Ben's has so much to offer, and during my time there I tried to take advantage of as many events and activities as possible," she explains. Jillian volunteered as a grade school tutor at Hands Across the World in St. Cloud, a nonprofit organization to help refugee and immigrant families of Central Minnesota and volunteered at the St. Peter's school in Vina del mar while studying abroad in Chile. On campus, Jillian taught safe space training classes, worked as a printmaking teaching assistant, was a member of the CSB rugby team and served as president of PRiSM-a club that focuses on teaching about and supporting the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community-her senior year.

It was the end of her senior year when Jillian decided to get involved in yet another program. "I was frantically researching grad schools and job searching, but decided to attend a Fulbright program informational meeting after receiving a campus wide email," Jillian explains. This one meeting changed her post-graduation course. Jillian was drawn to the program's focus on building and maintaining cross-cultural relationships and saw it as an opportunity to learn more about a new culture with the desire to walk away from the experience with a broader, more profound worldview.

Following graduation, Jillian worked as a program supervisor at Homeward Bound, Inc., a Minnesota company offering services to people with a variety of disabilities. During this time, she was also taking a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course in order to teach English abroad. In December 2015, Jillian made the move to Chile to teach English to elementary and secondary school students in the same school where she volunteered while studying abroad in 2013. "Saint Ben's shaped me into a leader and provided me with many important tools to succeed," says Jillian. "These last five months in Chile have shown me that I can live, work and network in another country, and not just get by, but flourish!"

In April 2016, the benefits of attending that initial Fulbright meeting came full circle, when she received a Fulbright English Teaching Award. She will travel to Malaysia in January 2017, to work as an English teaching assistant while also pursuing a study/research plan. "I have big hopes for Malaysia and am excited to see how I continue to grow with each new experience."