Senior Mahalia Kahsay Wins Princeton in Asia Fellowship

Senior Mahalia Kahsay Wins Princeton in Asia Fellowship

Mahalia Kahsay

Senior Mahalia Kahsay, a social policy major with an interest in refugee law, won a Princeton in Asia fellowship. She was awarded the highly selective fellowship to work in Thailand, teaching English at Chiang Mai University.

To promote cross-cultural understanding with Asia, Princeton in Asia awards 265 fellowships for talented U.S. graduates to do service in 21 countries across Asia. This nonprofit affiliated with Princeton University grants fellowships primarily for teaching but also for work with nongovernmental organizations, media and business.

“This fellowship gives me the incredible opportunity to learn a relevant language and experience living in a culture that I will continue to interact with long after I return,” Kahsay says. After the two fellowship years, she has set her sights on attending graduate school and working with refugees either in a law or policy context.

Between undergrad and graduate school, Kahsay wanted to see if working abroad suited her long-term. “I looked for full immersion programs that would require learning and language and building relationships with local community members,” she says. In addition to her part-time teaching at Chiang Mai University, Kahsay also hopes to volunteer with a local NGO or work as a tutor.

Kahsay preferred the Princeton in Asia fellowship to others because it continues with nonprofit posts for second-year fellows. She plans to stay on for a second year and get involved with an NGO that works with refugees.

She makes a point of saying that she heads to Thailand bolstered by her SESP education. “My SESP experience has prepared me to be unprepared. What I mean is that SESP taught me, through classes, my practicum and interactions with other students how to think critically and openly about complex issues and how to apply the skills I have gained, while learning from the experiences of the people around me,” Kahsay says.

“SESP prepared me both practically and conceptually. I learned about the history and complexities of social issues and education; I've learned from classroom management research and from panelists who humbly admit that education is a culturally complex field, even in the United States.”

During her years at Northwestern, Kahsay has participated in extracurricular activities and more recently volunteered and worked in Chicago. She participated in the Civic Engagement Certificate Program and was an intern with the Center for Forced Migration Studies. She also was a committee member with the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights and an executive board member for the Living Wage Campaign Research Team. She traveled to India with the Global Engagement Study Institute (GESI). 

“I'm heading to Thailand with a good educational foundation, well aware of all that I will learn by doing once I'm there,” Kahsay concludes.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/14/15