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ISLE Program

Alumni Newsletter Spring 2014

Story posted April 17, 2014

 sigiriya pic
Spring 2014 ISLE students pose at the base of Sigiriya with their Learning Partners from the University of Peradeniya.


Greetings from Brunswick, Maine! We are happy to bring you the latest ISLE Program updates from alumni, faculty, and students!

Professor Holt named 2014 Guggenheim Fellow!

Congratulations to ISLE Program Founder and 4-time Faculty Resident Director, Professor John Holt! Only 3 awards were given in the field of religion, and John was awarded one of the three. Please click here to read more about his current research. 

Three ISLE Alumni Receive Fulbright ETA Awards!

Three ISLE alumni have been selected for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Sri Lanka! Congratulations to:

Sam King (Bowdoin '14, ISLE '12)

Amiya Moretta (Whittier '14, ISLE '12)

Maddie Klett (Holy Cross '14, ISLE '12)

These three alumni will return to Sri Lanka to work in classrooms between kindergarten and university level. Alongside English teaching, they will serve as cultural ambassadors for the US. We wish you all the best!

You can read in last year's spring newsletter about the five ISLE alumni who are current Fulbrighters in Sri Lanka. 

Board Meeting 2014

Our faculty board members came together at the College of the Holy Cross for the annual ISLE Board Meeting in April. It was the first board meeting for two new members, Gustavus Adolphus professor and ISLE alumnus, Joshua Brown and Bates Professor, David Cummiskey. Pictured below from left to right is Joshua Brown (Gustavus Adolphus), Steven Hopkins (Swarthmore), David Cummiskey (Bates), Brittain Smith (Holy Cross, Off-Campus Study Director), Roger Jackson (Carleton), Sonja Thomas (Colby, in place of Sahan Dissanayake), Mat Schmalz (Holy Cross), Todd Lewis (Holy Cross), Sree Padma Holt (Executive Director), John Holt (Bowdoin). 

board members

 Alumni Updates

Chantal Croteau (ISLE '10)

I finished my second year at the 35th Rajaprajanugroh School in Bangsak, Thailand in mid-March. I am leaving shortly for a month adventure in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos before heading to Sri Lanka to visit my host family for a few weeks in May. In the fall of 2014, I will be starting an Asian Studies master's degree program at Cornell University. I will be specifically focusing on Thai and Sri Lankan studies. 

Katie Dearing (ISLE '06)

Katie Dearing finished her Masters in Nonprofit Administration (MNA) from the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business in summer 2012.  She recently moved from Boston to New York City and is working in fundraising and strategy for Radio Maria, a start-up national Catholic radio operation.  She would love to connect with any ISLE alum in the area: kathryn.dearing@gmail.com

Carey H. Dukes (ISLE '93) 

My husband, John, and I welcomed our twins, Sophie Skye and Miles Carson Dukes, into the world on September 23, 2013.  I have since decided to take a break from teaching high school World History to take care of the twins, while my husband begins a new career in Occupational Therapy.  Life is full of change and new beginnings!  We live in Austin, Texas where I have connected with the local Sri Lankan community by teaching Dhamma Classes to children from ages 3 to 14 at the Austin Buddhist Vihara

Dukes baby

Jeremy Fischer (ISLE '04)

Read about the success of Jeremy's online startup, Wander: http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/11/yahoo-acquires-social-diary-company-wander-for-over-10m/

Sarah Lord (ISLE '08)

Sarah will graduate from the Master of Divinity program at Harvard Divinity School this May. She has accepted a teaching position with Unlocking Potential in Lawrence, MA.

Maggie Meyers (ISLE '04)

Maggie lives in Seattle, WA.  In June 2013, she completed her Masters of Education in Curriculum & Instruction, and is enjoying her project management work with an education nonprofit in Seattle. In July 2014, Maggie and fiancé Ari Hausler will tie the knot in northern Michigan, surrounded by family and friends, including Maggie's big sister and fellow ISLE alum Elizabeth Christoforetti (née Meyers).


Noel McCann (ISLE '13)

In May, Noel will be graduating from Amherst College with an Honors degree in Religion.  Afterwards, he will pursue an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, beginning in September 2014.  During the intervening summer, Noel will be refreshing and enhancing his Sinhala language skills at the South Asia Summer Language Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

Meg Oka (ISLE '11)

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Whittier College with a B.A. in Feminist Studies and Economics, Meg began working full-time with Grandma's House of Hope, a non-profit servicing the Orange County area. This organization offers a transitional living program to homeless women who are the "hard to place" cases and are often turned down from other programs. Many of these women are human trafficking survivors (yes it still exists in the United States, and in Orange County!), breast cancer fighters, women with dual diagnosis or those with severe mental or physical disabilities. Grandma's House of Hope also provides meals to children living in homeless situations who typically rely entirely on the free/reduced lunch programs at their schools for food and are at risk of going hungry on weekends and during the summer. While not working on making a difference in her small corner of the world, Meg loves staying connected with the international community through CouchSurfing and recently got connected to the CS community in OC. And of course, keeping up with her friends from Sri Lanka via Facebook! 

Ben Schlitt Ritz (ISLE '98)

1. Clerked with the 165th Harris County Judicial District Court for the Spring Semester

2. Will be clerking with the 14th Court of Appeals (Houston, TX) in the Fall Semester.

3. Happy, healthy toddler Charlie below.

Ritz Baby

Liz Swanton (ISLE '06)

Many things have happened in my life over the past year.  I got married in October to my girlfriend, Amanda – the same one that I had for most of the program. We had a really small outdoor wedding followed by Cajun food, lawn games, sparklers, and a fire pit. In January, we took a trip to Seattle, and got to spend some time with Colleen Smith (ISLE ’06) and Katie Seward (ISLE ’06), drink delicious beer, and eat tons of foods that we don’t have in Iowa (but, alas, no Sri Lankan food).

In May, I will be graduating from the University of Iowa College of Public Health with a Masters of Public Health in Community and Behavioral Health. Following graduation, I will work for the community engagement core of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science in Iowa City, where I will facilitate relationships between members of the public, researchers, and health providers.

Although it’s been almost 10 years since I traveled to Sri Lanka, every now and then something triggers a memory and I am transported to the fall semester of 2006. Something about the smell sometimes when it is raining instantly reminds me of Sri Lanka, and I think of walking – so many miles that my ridiculous looking Keen sandals fell apart by the end of the trip – past cows on the side of the road, children in their matching school uniforms, and tuk-tuks trying to overcharge me for a ride; of eating my Amma’s red rice, curries, and roti; of riding the crowded train from Kandy to the beach at Mirissa; and, hanging with my buddies on the program. I feel very lucky for having had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad and to get the experience of living with a Sri Lankan family.

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Please keep in touch! Email isle@bowdoin.edu with any updates that you would like to share with your fellow ISLE alumni. We always love hearing from you!

Best wishes,




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