After India stint, Colleen Fagan urges students to see the world
By Anya Tikka
MILFORD — When Milford native Colleen Fagan qualified for a Boren scholarship to study overseas, she planned to go to Nepal to help restore the country after last year's devastating earthquakes. Those plans changed course, and she was offered another international adventure.
"I was asked to switch countries to India as the scholarship team wanted to better ensure my safety in the aftermath of the earthquake," Fagan said.
She ended up in Jaipur, India, where she studied Hindi at the American Institute of Indian Studies. She made new friends with both locals and the other 15 Americans studying at the school.
"I made a few good Indian friends while in Jaipur, although due to the culture it was a bit more difficult to make local friends as easily as I would in the USA," she said.
But she did take advantage of the opportunities during her long visit.
”I really enjoyed my time in India," she said. "Although I was originally excited to travel to Nepal, India had always been a country I was interested in from a young age, and the eight months spent there was incredible. I loved learning a new, non-Roman language, especially from local Indian teachers, and the experience was great. I lived with a host family and was able to experience that part of the culture."
Life was very different from what she’d been used to, living at home in America. She missed all-American things, like football games and holidays.
“The hardest part for me was missing both of my younger brothers’ football games in the fall," she said.
Jack attends Carnegie Mellon University and Shane attends Delaware Valley High School, and both play football for their schools.
Missing Thanksgiving and Christmas with the family was especially tough.
Keeping in touch over internet helped. But it was good to come home.
“I came back to the United States with a greater appreciation for my small hometown," she said. "I missed my family and dog the most, followed by the convenience of washer machines and dryers for my clothes. Each week I would do laundry in a bucket."
A worldly outlook
The future is looking bright for Fagan's continued international study. She received another Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) through the US State Department. CLS funds the study of languages critical to America's interests, and the immersion of students in different cultures and countries. She’ll learn Urdu, again in India, in a town called Lucknow for a 9 to 10 week summer program after taking an orientation program in Washington, D.C.
“The Boren scholarship and CLS combination has definitely altered my ideas for future careers," she said. "I hope to continue my language studies somehow in my career and I would love to work in the federal government with international relations. In one year’s time, I hope to begin the Boren scholarship’s one-year service requirement with the federal government and gain some experience in the field of international relations or international development. Within five years, I hope to attend graduate school to further my studies and also hope to study again internationally.”
But Fagan is still a Milford girl after all her travels.
“I plan to return to the Milford area upon returning from my CLS period in September 2016 where I will work locally while applying for jobs in the federal government,” she said.
Fagan said many scholarships and programs are available to send students abroad. She encourages all students to find them and apply.
“The opportunities are out there and waiting to be taken," she said. "So if it’s something that interests you, I highly recommend all students travel abroad as early as they can in their careers as it truly is an eye-opening experience.”