Senior to break stereotypes in Argentina after earning regarded Fulbright award | Earlham College Skip to Content

Senior to break stereotypes in Argentina after earning regarded Fulbright award

April 22, 2016

A recent Fulbright Award will allow Chisama Ku Penn ’16 to bring together all of her interests.

Penn will serve as a Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistant at a college for teachers in Argentina for the upcoming academic year, beginning March 2017. The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and funds selective teaching and research experiences.

Penn, a Spanish and Hispanic Studies major has a long list of service, activities and interests that have contributed to her desire to serve as a Fulbright teaching fellow.

“I’m a Bonner Scholar, and all of the service that I’ve done through Bonner has been teaching,” she says. Penn has taught at the Amigos Latino Center, and has served as a teaching assistant for various schools in the Richmond community like Westview Elementary School and the Richmond Friends School. She has also worked with the Richmond High School Orchestra as a teaching assistant and peer mentor, and is currently a TA for Spanish at Earlham.

“I am also a violinist and a dancer, and I want to delve more deeply into the Tango,” she says. “I want to understand how the Tango connects culture, and I want to engage in that culture by being a performer.”

Penn is the 26th Earlhamite to become a Fulbright scholar since 2004, continuing the College’s proud tradition as one of the nation’s top Fulbright-producing institutions, according to The Chronicle for Higher Education.

In 2014, Earlham was in the top 28 of all national liberal arts Colleges for Fulbrights, a list that includes other leading liberal arts colleges like Pitzer, Amherst, Pomona, Oberlin, Middlebury and Kenyon colleges as leaders in this area. 

Penn’s project will provide opportunities to improve her Spanish speaking skills and learn more about the culture that surrounds that language. She has not yet learned which Argentinian city she will be placed in, but she wants to be in Buenos Aires where immigrants gathered in the 1880s to create the language of Tango.

“I change my mind a lot about what I want to do,” she says. “Looking at my past experiences and adding the Fulbright experience, I think they would all come together nicely as a cultural ambassador,” she says. “An ambassador represents their country in  a positive way and connects with other countries and cultures to bring the world together.

“I love communities and getting to know people, getting involved in their culture. I love breaking stereotypes, and I think I will be able to do this as an ambassador.”

Her recent experience as concertmistress for the Earlham orchestra also augmented her interest in breaking stereotypes and opening people’s minds to new possibilities.

“I’ve been to a lot of orchestra concerts and symphonies, and I have never seen a black woman as a concertmistress,” she says. “I felt like I opened people’s mind because they had never seen a black woman leading an orchestra. I was breaking a stereotype, and I see myself doing the same thing in Argentina.”

— EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and


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