William and Mary

Community Stories

"After doing an ETA Fulbright in Vienna, Austria I am now a Fellow at the American Jewish Committee's Ramer Institute for German-Jewish Relations."

-- Max Lazar '12

Laura Evers '11

"As part of my summer internship in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, I attended Malala Day at the United Nations as a U.S. Youth Delegate on July 12th. I wrote about my experiences for DIPNOTE, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State. I'm also currently finishing up my Master of Arts degree in International Development from Columbia University."

-- Laura Evers '11


Neil Tanner '93"Just a quick note to pass along some good news. Although I'm continuing my international law practice, I was named one of nine U.S. Eisenhower Fellows for 2013. I spent a most of April in Singapore and Vietnam looking at ways the Philadelphia region can improve foreign direct investment based on the successes of those countries. I've been blogging and tweeting (@IntlLawGuy) on my travels and will continue to do so when in Brazil from mid July through mid August. "

-- Neil Boyden Tanner '93


Rogers"Studying abroad through the Reves Center at the Sorbonne in Paris in Fall 2011 was my first genuine smack-in-the-face realization that there truly is a whole big world out there. After graduation, the prospect of a less-than-ideal job market led me to accept a marketing position with the Chinese Language Institute, an American language-learning company clear on the other side of the world in Guilin, China.

"Adapting to life in Europe was challenging; adapting to life in rural China is an experience utterly unlike anything I've ever imagined. From the madness of Chinese city traffic to the myriad cultural distances and differences, expat life takes on a whole other dimension, but I am enjoying everything it has to teach me.

"Further, if any fellow William and Mary alums are interested in learning Mandarin to increase their marketability in this changing 21st Century economy, I invite you to visit to see what the Chinese Language Institute is all about. We've been featured in the Washington Post, and Frommers recently called us 'one of the best places in China to improve your Mandarin skills.' And besides, I'd love to have a fellow member of the Tribe walking our halls! "

-- Jason Rogers '12


Baek"As the Reves Hall Program Coordinator in the Fall of 2011, I had the honor of serving Reves Hall residents and helping them develop knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity to other cultures and languages by coordinating diverse activities.

"From potluck dinner parties to a monthly, campus-wide, internationally themed lecture series, the Reves Hall Coffee Hour, Reves Hall hosts activities that are designed to raise global awareness. My job was to make sure that such an environment nurtured residents’ passions and interests, and maintained a spirit of unity among them.

"Living in Reves Hall and serving its community wasn’t just about exposure to and learning from the student body with its great assortment of differing backgrounds. Nor was it merely about exchanging cultural ideas. Rather, it served as a guide that helped us learn from the similarities among us, including the shared responsibility for our global generation. It opened up the gate to a road of discovery, and acceptance, of being a so-called ‘active’ global citizen. In either a conscious or unconscious manner, 28 of us have strived to not only bring concepts and ideas from classrooms to the community, but also to adopt the favorable skills necessary to survive in our internationalized society. Each of us in Reves Hall has already begun serving this generation in our unique way of active learning."

-- Hee Kyung Baek '14


Forster"When I began thinking about study abroad opportunities a few years ago, I knew I wanted to find a program that would allow me to experience the American view of the issues facing the world, and to deepen my understanding of the United States both politically and culturally. I knew such insights would be invaluable to understanding how the US develops its foreign policy towards Britain and the rest of the world. With William & Mary I was able to take courses relating to issues crucial to United States security, such as the politics of Russia and China. In addition, a class on Southern Politics allowed me to bolster my understanding of the American South by studying its politics historically and to the present day."

-- Callum Forster, 2010 - 2011 University of St Andrews Exchange Student



"I loved life at William & Mary, the sense of community was a unique experience for me. I really enjoyed how people were enthusiastic to see you on campus, and that professors and students were able to create strong bonds. I definitely call some of my former professors friends now. I used to get a cup of coffee and just sit on a terrace or on a bench and watch all the different people hanging out together and having a laugh.

"Of course I had some difficulties with deciding to study in a foreign country. I had to take science classes with labs, for example, not something I would have necessarily encountered in Romania – and I found out that even the calculators are different in the United States! I also had to get used to learning in a different language. That was a general struggle. I always received my papers back with 'wordy' or 'awkward' written on them in my first year. I also had to become used to multiple choice exams, which required a whole new way to study. These were difficulties I had to work through for myself, and by the end of my time at W&M I just told myself that everything I achieved would be the best I could do at that particular moment. I never put myself down for anything I did in college, and looking back on it I wouldn’t trade my time at William & Mary for the world."

-- Anca Cretu '11


Tabatabai"I had just turned 16 when I came to the United States in 1999 as an exchange student. I was only supposed to stay for my junior year of high school but ended up enjoying it so much that, with my parents' approval, I decided to stay for my senior year as well. My exchange program actually placed me in Gloucester, Virginia, a small town right across the river from Williamsburg, so I ended up attending Gloucester High School. Through my close proximity, I quickly realized that William & Mary was not only one of the most prestigious and historical colleges in the country, but also one of the best liberal arts schools nationwide. It was basically a no-brainer for me to apply to W&M, knowing that I would be receiving a quality education along with many bright individuals, including my best friend from high school.

"Being a student at W&M came with a lot of studying and hard work, but I still found plenty of time to enjoy a plethora of ultimate Frisbee games in the Sunken Gardens, countless rounds of Frisbee golf, any number of intramural soccer games, and endless Mario Kart and Super Smash Brothers competitions that would take us through entire nights.

"During my time in Williamsburg I learned a lot during lectures, but I also gained many insights and received countless valuable lessons at my job with campus IT. My boss Jeff Jolly, Scott Fenstermacher, and Clark Morledge were instrumental in aiding my well-rounded education. Plus I got to ride around in a golf cart on campus for four years, which was pretty sweet! All in all, I have to say that I am very fortunate to be a W&M alumnus and I always feel a sense of pride when telling people where I went to school."

-- Kevin Tabatabai '05


Wehrle"My junior year abroad in Kiev, Ukraine, then the Soviet Union, was not my first experience in that part of the world.  In high school I participated in an unforgettable trip to the Soviet Union with my junior Russian class, and after my freshman year at William & Mary I traveled to Kiev with a group from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  By that point I was hooked and completely in love with the Russian language and its culture. That the Soviet Union was still behind the 'Iron Curtain' made the country even more fascinating.

"During my year in Kiev I made many close friends, and because of the slower pace of life there I had a lot of time to spend with them. One of my favorite weekly activities was walking around the city for hours on Sunday afternoons, just talking with new friends.  Many of the students I befriended were Russian or Ukrainian, but I also had a unique opportunity to meet people from Iran, Afghanistan, China, Japan, and all over Africa. 

"I experienced history in the making during the 1991-92 school year.  Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and I witnessed some of the first Ukrainian elections, a change in currency, and the dismantling of Lenin’s statue on Independence Square.  There were challenges, too, living in this historic time in Kiev.  I lived in a poor quality dormitory and didn’t always have enough to eat.  The lines for food, which had already been long, grew longer, and the store shelves became even emptier.  I was issued ration coupons and often struggled to find something I could buy to eat. 

"I had little contact with home due to slow mail and a telephone system which required a trip to the main post office and waiting for a line to become available.  I learned to overcome these challenges through trial and error, and by leaning on my new Soviet friends for support.  I also gained confidence as my Russian language skills improved.  Some of my learning came from the classroom, but most of it came from just living in a foreign country and being surrounded by a language I needed to learn to survive.  When I returned to William & Mary for my senior year, I could see a radical difference between my abilities to read, write and speak Russian, and the abilities of my classmates who had not spent the year overseas."

-- Janet Wehrle '93


Sawadogo"I grew up knowing that I did not want to limit my career opportunities, so therefore I should study in a field that would be general enough to provide me with some flexibility in my professional life. Also, as a native French speaker from Burkina Faso, I knew that becoming fluent in English too would open a lot of doors for me. To satisfy these ideas, I decided to get a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in an English speaking country.

"Like any international student, one of the main obstacles I faced when I arrived at W&M was the language barrier. It was my first time living in an English speaking country. Even if I had the academic vocabulary, I had never had friends who only spoke English or had to find items in the grocery store in a foreign language. After few months I started get used to speaking English every day, everywhere, and that was when I really started enjoying myself.

"I realized that W&M is THE world but in a smaller setting. At the College students from different nationalities, cultures, languages, and visions find themselves in a small environment and have to overcome their differences and work together. I know that not only did I learn a lot from the wonderful people I met, socialized and worked with at W&M, but that I also taught quite a few people about my continent, Africa. As the Vice President of the International Students Association at the Mason School of Business, I worked hard to include events where the African continent was represented, which was not always the case in the past!"

-- Farida Sawadogo MBA '10


Campbell"I was attracted by the size and liberal arts focus at William & Mary. I grew up down the road in Richmond and always thought I would go to a different Virginia school, but I chose W&M because I liked the idea of being taught by professors who I could get to know, rather than by graduate students.

"I lived in Switzerland during part of high school, and enjoyed the experience of making friends from different countries, as well as being immersed in another language and culture.  I was seeking the same experience when I chose to study abroad during my time at the College, and was rewarded with a wonderful experience in Grenoble, France.  It also didn't hurt that one of my best friends from W&M was in the same program. This made it easier when I returned to Williamsburg because I often felt that I had experienced so much during one semester, and grown and changed substantially as a person.  Sometimes it felt difficult to relate these changes to my friends who had not been with me. The friend who had been in France with me became my roommate and we shared an understanding about what it had been like to be away, to have had fantastic experiences, and now to be back home together in Williamsburg.

"I chose to go abroad again for a postgraduate degree in France, where I earned a Master’s degree in Political Science from l'Instutut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) in 2004.  I have since lived and worked in New Delhi, India, for a technology oriented venture capital fund and Zurich, Switzerland, where I started an alternative investment research business focused on India.

"International education made a tremendous difference in my experience at W&M, as well as in my pursuit of a very internationally oriented career.  I have a great love for the College and we decided to donate the Clark Campbell Scholarship to enrich the experiences of international students there."

-- Tim Campbell '97


Clark"I grew up in the English education system, where we are required to focus on a particular course of study from age 16. Very early on I knew that this is not what I wanted for myself, instead I was interested in a liberal arts education which allowed for a broad education eventually followed by more focused study. I was intrigued by the idea of studying in the United States and the prospect of studying amongst students from all over the world, so I attended a college fair in London and enjoyed speaking with the representatives from William & Mary.  I was attracted to the fact that the College is small, has a rich history, and a connection the United Kingdom.  I left the W&M booth feeling that I would belong there, and that I would have a very interesting and rich experience. I was not wrong.

"At first, I felt different. I was not familiar with American culture and norms. From my accent to my clothes to the fact that I showed up with one suitcase as opposed to the van full of belongings my roommate had with her, I felt very obviously different from the other students.  In fact, I was a little lost when I first arrived. I had no idea about the US college credit system, orientation or sororities. But it was exciting to be in such a different place and to be from a different country, and I quickly made friends with my hall-mates and the other international students.

"Of course there were glimpses of home every so often. Sir Christopher Wren's architecture was a small reminder, as was seeing Lady Thatcher on campus!  In day to day life however, I had to find replacements for many British essential foods.  For example, Marmite was replaced by peanut butter, and baked beans on toast were replaced by ramen noodles. I learned to adapt to my new setting quickly.  

"Being an international student at W&M helped me build friendships and work contacts in many different countries. I studied abroad in Mali, West Africa and have since been passionate about working in development and working in other cultures. I have lived in New Delhi and Zurich.  In New Delhi I worked for several Indian charities, helping them with fundraising as well as organizational development, and worked with a British charitable trust evaluating projects focused on empowering women in developing countries. I’m so glad my first step towards this international life began with William & Mary."

-- Odette Clark '00