Scholarships Take RIC Students Abroad

Betsy Montes

These future Rhode Island educators recognize how important it is to understand the language and culture of their students.

Caroline Bradley

This summer two grad students are packing their bags to move to a foreign country to study languages, thanks to generous scholarships.

Betsy Montes (headline photo) and Caroline Bradley (photo above) are world languages education majors. They will take language classes in Guatemala and Spain to better prepare them to assist the diverse community of students in Rhode Island.

Montes will fly to Guatemala, the land of her ancestors, for two weeks to study K'iche' (also Quiché), a Mayan language spoken by the Kʼiche’ people of the central highlands in Guatemala and Mexico.

Her study is funded by a Beatrice S. Demers Foreign Language Fellowship, administered by the Rhode Island Foundation. The $8,000 fellowship will help pay for tuition at Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzaltenango, along with housing, fees, travel and other expenses. 

“The Guatemalan population in Providence is high and many do not speak Spanish; they speak K’iche’,” says Montes. “Learning Kʼiche’ myself will help me feel more integrated and relate better to my students.”

“When I return, I will continue studying online with the same program for another two months,” she says. “I think it’s important to keep native languages alive.”

While Montes is learning K’iche’, Bradley will take an intensive Spanish language course for five weeks in the Education First International Language Campus in Barcelona, Spain, to improve her fluency. To pay for transportation and food expenses, Bradley will use the Rhode Island for Languages Association $500 stipend awarded to college students who want to study abroad.

“I’ve been interested in the Spanish language and other cultures since I was very young,” says Bradley. “My advisor, Dr. Papa, was always encouraging me to go abroad but I was very nervous. Now that the time has come, I know I can make some serious progress with the language.”

Bradley wants to be well-prepared for a career teaching Spanish in Rhode Island. “At RIC, I learned a lot in my Spanish classes. I was speaking, reading and writing in Spanish, but going abroad I think is the best way to improve my proficiency,” she says.

Soon after returning from the land of Flamenco and Tapas, Bradley will pack up again to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to study at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus.

“My 2024 fall semester will be in Puerto Rico. I’ll take a teaching practicum class to complete my education and language coursework,” she says. “I’ll develop my lesson plans and go into the classroom to teach in a real-life setting. I think this continuous exposure to the language will strengthen my confidence in my ability to speak, read and write the language.”

This is the first study abroad experience for Montes and Bradley. Both feel not only grateful but eager to see what this experience in a foreign country holds.