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W&L’s Sydney Lee ’22 Awarded Fulbright to Costa Rica Lee has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Costa Rica starting in early 2023.

Sydney-Lee-scaled-600x400 W&L’s Sydney Lee ’22 Awarded Fulbright to Costa RicaSydney Lee ’22

Washington and Lee senior Sydney Lee ’22 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Costa Rica. At W&L, Lee is majoring in political philosophy and minoring in Poverty and Human Capability Studies. Lee graduated from Metairie Park Country Day School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Once assigned a host country destination, recipients of the Fulbright ETA are placed in classrooms to assist local English teachers and serve as cultural ambassadors. Lee will depart for Costa Rica in early 2023 and spend 10 months assisting in a local school. In Costa Rica, ETAs generally teach students in high school and higher education levels, typically in settings outside the capital of San Jose.

“I participated in W&L’s immersion program in Costa Rica the summer after my freshman year and have hoped to return there ever since. I am thrilled for this opportunity because I have missed my host family in Nicoya, Costa Rica, very much,” Lee said. “It is such a beautiful country, and the people there are incredible.”

Lee said she is grateful to Matthew Loar, W&L’s director of fellowships, for encouraging her to apply for the Fulbright Program. She credits Stuart Gray, associate professor of politics, for inspiring her to want to become a teacher.

“Sydney is incredibly deserving of this award, and I know she’ll do a tremendous job representing the United States in Costa Rica,” Gray said. “She has displayed an inspiring cross-cultural curiosity and passion for learning about different cultures in our political philosophy courses, and she is one of the kindest and brightest students I’ve had the opportunity to teach at W&L. I strongly believe that Sydney’s passion for social justice and global education have put her in a position to inspire students and enrich communities across international borders.”

Lee is no stranger to adventure and challenge, having spent her undergraduate career involved with running and cycling on Washington and Lee’s campus, as well as at Oxford during her study abroad experience during the 2020-2021 academic year. Lee hopes to bring her personal passions into her work as an ETA.

“Alongside teaching English, ETAs are asked to pursue independent projects,” Lee said. “I hope to supplement teaching English in the classroom with starting or supporting a youth running group to promote well-being and stimulate conversation in the outdoors.”

At W&L, Lee is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Honor Society, the Outing Club and the Triathlon Club. She has served as a writer for the Ring-tum Phi, as a phonathon caller for the W&L Annual Fund and as a peer counselor. She also deeply values her time as a volunteer in the Yellow Brick Road Early Learning Center’s nursery room and as a tutor at Harrington Waddell Elementary School.

“Sydney is an uncommonly thoughtful, sincere and compassionate person,” said Howard Pickett, associate professor of ethics and poverty studies and director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. “From our very first class together until now, she has impressed me with her commitment to a more just and humane world. More recently, she has impressed me with her Shepherd capstone project on the ways in which so-called ‘natural disasters,’ like Hurricane Katrina that hit her hometown of New Orleans, are, in fact, social disasters, even social injustices. I know she will remain committed to, and gifted in, collaborating effectively and respectfully with others to promote a more equitable world of real opportunity for all.”

Lee said she is looking forward to gaining experience teaching English as a second language. She is passionate about expanding access to education globally and is considering pursuing a master’s in international education policy or education following the completion of her Fulbright Program.

The Fulbright Program was established over 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Washington and Lee University is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2021-2022 Fulbright U.S. Students for the fourth consecutive year.

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