2016-2017 Fellows

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Anna Aden

Anna Aden

International Rescue Committee – Myanmar

Anna received her undergraduate degree from Reed College in 2014 with a BA in Linguistics. During college, she worked as a legal assistant at an immigration law office in Portland, Oregon, which she took on as a full time job after graduating from Reed. The office focused primarily on U nonimmigrant cases, offering relief for immigrants who had fallen victim to human trafficking, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude and domestic violence, as well as asylum cases for those fleeing dangerous living conditions or unjust persecution in their home countries.

In September 2015 Anna packed up her life in Portland and flew to Bangkok on a one-way ticket. For the past several months she has been traveling around South/Southeast Asia, volunteering with various NGOs as she goes. Her intent is to expand her skills in community development, refugee aid, and public health, and to gain more experience in the field of aid and development. The month Anna spent in Myanmar earlier this year affirmed her desire to work in Yangon—a city brimming with development, change, and inspiring people—and she is beyond thrilled to join the VIA team and work for an organization like the International Rescue Committee.

Iris Bercovitz

Iris Bercovitz

BEAM – Thailand

VIA’s commitment to preparing fellows to the fullest degree ensures that fellows are equipped to work effectively and connect personally with those with whom they are working. After living and studying in Hyderabad, India, Iris saw the importance of having the type of guidance and support that VIA provides. Her work with Amnesty International, her experience teaching arts, and tutoring children in the DC public schools showed her that a positive teaching environment creates long-term benefits for students. Iris joined the fellowship in 2015 at Inle Lake Heritage Foundation Vocational School in Myanmar. She is continuing to serve as a Global Community Fellow in her new position with BEAM in Thailand.

Chelsea Bhajan

Chelsea Bhajan

Yayasan Dian Desa – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Chelsea hails all the way from the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She recently graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Japanese Language and Culture. During her junior year, she studied abroad in Indonesia with the School for International Training (SIT) where her studies focused on art, religion, and social change. Since that experience, Chelsea has always wanted to return to Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia, in order to spend more time immersed in the culture and lifestyle there. She is particularly interested in partnering with NGOs to serve the community she has come to feel connected to.

Chelsea is thrilled to join VIA as a fellow with Yayasan Dian Desa (YDD). This fellowship will allow Chelsea to fulfill her goals of gaining experience working with international NGOs, engaging in international service work, and becoming more fluent in Bahasa Indonesia. She is truly grateful for the opportunity to work with YDD, whose aim and mission will help her work with and for these communities in a true collaborative partnership.

Alex Breckon

Alex Breckon

USAID COMET – Cambodia

As a VIA Global Community Fellow, Alex Breckon is eager to apply his communications and technology experience to help develop and grow the USAID COMET program in Cambodia. Alex developed his business and leadership skills in the satellite and media industries, both in the public and private sectors. He was born in Thailand and lived for many years in Southeast Asia. He is excited about the opportunity to participate in the VIA fellowship program and reconnect with the region he called home in his youth.

Alex recently completed a mid-career master’s degree program at the University of California San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. During his time at UCSD, Alex developed and launched a workforce development program aimed at inspiring middle and high school students in Cambodia to gain basic skills in information communications and technology.

Alex Brinas

Alex Brinas

International School of Asia, Karuizawa – Japan

Born and raised in New York, Alex recently graduated from Stanford University with a BS in Product Design Engineering. While much of her background is in managing and designing physical products and hand-making things, she’s also really drawn to cross-cultural social change, especially in education. Growing up, she always had a soft spot for Japanese culture, and in college, she spent half a year studying and working in Japan. Her passion for Japan has evolved into an eagerness to explore Asia-U.S. collaboration, and she was lucky enough to have the chance to co-lead VIA’s DSI program last year.

Overall, Alex is still figuring out how to craft her life path, but she does know that she wants to somehow combine her loves of design and cross-cultural education to create meaningful things that inspire the world’s youth. This super awesome opportunity to be a fellow at ISAK is at the crux of what she’s excited about – she’s eager, nervous, and stoked all at the same time for the journey ahead.

Danny Brooks

Danny Brooks

Ouyang Yu Experimental Middle School – China

Daniel Brooks is a left-handed, somewhat color blind, and trilingual young man from San Luis Obispo, California. Attending a bilingual (English & Spanish) elementary school left him with a lifelong passion for studying languages, travelling, and communicating across cultures. In 2008 and 2009 he went with his mother, a nurse practitioner, and a group called ICARE International on two volunteer missions to provide free prescription eyewear and cataract surgery in Guatemala.

At UC Santa Cruz he studied Chinese and Linguistics and had a transformative experience studying abroad in Beijing. He has worked as an educator in various capacities: first as a peer-to-peer reproductive health counselor at a free clinic in San Luis Obispo, later as a spoken-English teacher in China, and most recently as a bilingual teaching assistant at his elementary school. He hopes this experience and his enthusiasm for travel and cross-cultural immersion will make his VIA fellowship as impactful and meaningful as possible. In his free time he enjoys video games, riding his bike, going to concerts, and hiking and running.

Catherine Browning

Catherine Browning

USAID COMET – Vietnam

Catherine graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2014 with double majors in Public Policy and Journalism and Mass Communication: Reporting. For the past two years, she worked at VIF International Education, an organization focused on empowering teachers and students to learn about and engage with the world as global citizens. During her time at VIF, Catherine took on various roles within the organization to support: curriculum and instructional development, platform management, content creation, and research and analysis. In her most recent position, as head of project management, she supported, managed and oversaw ongoing projects across the organization. Catherine served as a 2014-15 fellow for the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship program, a 10-month program that exposes fellows to policymakers and state and federal education policy-making processes.

Catherine is thrilled to be a part of the VIA community and hopes that her time during the program will allow her to foster a better understanding of the world and expand her own perspectives and understanding. Catherine decided to pursue a fellowship with VIA to gain first-hand experience in international development, and to truly practice what she preaches – explore a new part of the world and learn from the unique and inspiring people and places throughout it. She can’t wait to see how this fellowship opportunity will allow her to grow and learn, both professionally and personally, and expose her to a place she has longed to immerse herself in and explore: Southeast Asia.

 Christina Bui

Christina Bui

Pacific Links Foundation’s ADAPT Program – Vietnam

Christina Bui a second year fellow, and a budding international communicator, event planner, and active leader primarily based in Washington, DC. Her passion and commitment shines through in the roles she took on as a student, including Recruitment Chair for the 8th Korea-America Student Conference, Conference Director for the East Coast Asian American Student Union 2014 Conference, Intern for the International Leadership Foundation, and Co-President of the Asian American Student Union. She is a graduate of American University, where she pursued her Masters of Arts in Strategic Communication in 2015 after graduating with her Bachelors of Arts in Public Communication and International Studies with a minor in Japanese language in 2014. Additionally, growing up with a Vietnamese family allowed her to retain her Vietnamese language skills.

 Heather Glenny

Heather Glenny

Tra Vinh University – Vietnam

Heather is so excited to be a part of the VIA community and work in Tra Vinh this year! She is currently finishing undergrad at Stanford with a BA in Art History and an honors focus in Education. For her, art is this magical way of communicating with one another; it’s a way to experience lives and minds completely different from one’s own. Education offers this same avenue for communication and creates a gateway to both global and individual understanding. Heather’s experiences teaching in schools and museums have been valuable, challenging, surprising, and addicting. She joined VIA to pursue her passions for educating, exploring, and meeting new people. She is thrilled to continue to grow during this new adventure!

 Catherine Hendren

Catherine Hendren

Yangon Pre-Collegiate Program – Myanmar

Catherine comes from Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from Georgetown University in the spring of 2014, she set off for Asia to travel for a couple weeks with a group of friends. She ended up staying for six months to teach English and Economics at a small school on the Thailand-Burma border. After her time in Asia, she spent an amazing year in Australia working as the Program Assistant for NYU Sydney, one of the university’s newest Global Program sites. However, Southeast Asia continues to draw her back. She is thrilled to join the 2016-2017 program to teach again and delve into more Burmese language study.

 Pat Kelly

Patrick Kelly

USAID COMET – Myanmar

Patrick is very excited to begin work in Myanmar with the Global Community Fellowship. With American foreign policy shifting towards Asia and the exciting developments in his host country, he couldn’t think of a better time to go!

Pat grew up near Boston and graduated from New York University in 2013 with a major in Politics. After graduating, he worked part-time, took some time to backpack through Peru and Colombia, and volunteered for an advocacy NGO called SustainUS. Eventually he was given the opportunity to represent SustainUS as a delegate to a UN conference. In 2015, Pat spent the year working in Kumasi, Ghana for an International Education NGO, Exponential Education. In all he has visited over a dozen countries. Outside of work and travel, Pat likes watching football (American and Association), craft beer, keeping up with current events, and Mexican food.

 Christina Kovacs

Christina Kovacs

Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School – Myanmar

Christina grew up in New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania but often just says she comes from Philadelphia. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Brown in Middle Eastern Studies and, after working with refugee and migrant communities through various NGOs, went on to earn a Master’s degree in Refugee & Forced Migration Studies at Oxford. She comes to Mandalay from Human Rights Watch headquarters in New York, where she worked on the team that coordinates the organization’s research and media output on human rights violations. After several years of academic research and program management, Christina is looking forward to working more directly on educational projects with communities in Myanmar, where her research interests have drifted during this transitional period in the country’s history. Christina’s research has generally focused on ideas about belonging in contexts of displacement both within and across borders, and she is eager to explore these and broader questions about the relationships between individuals, communities and states with her students.

 Maddy Lawson

Maddy Lawson

USAID COMET – Laos

Maddy grew up in a small town in rural Vermont, studied graphic and web design at Lesley University in Boston, and recently returned to Vermont to begin a master’s degree program at the School for International Training (SIT). Her degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management is primarily focused on nonprofit management, as well as program design and implementation. As a fellow with VIA, she is working on her thesis while serving as the USAID COMET fellow in Laos. Maddy hopes to complete her degree in 2017 and start her career in international aid and development.

Having lived in Laos previously, Maddy is excited to delve deeper into the culture and is eager to study Lao during her fellowship. She is particularly interested in Lao history, society, and its many ethnic groups. Maddy is also trilled to have the chance to see more of Asia over the next year, and will definitely be taking advantage of any opportunity to travel and explore new places.

 Dorothy Lutz

Dorothy Lutz

USAID COMET – Vietnam

Dorothy comes to VIA after starting a career in management consulting supporting high-tech and highly regulated sectors, including aerospace, shipbuilding, national security, and information technology among others.  She graduated from Brown University in 2013 with a BA in International Relations, focusing on 20th century American foreign policy and Modern Middle Eastern politics. Outside of classes at Brown, Dorothy tried her hand in documentary film-making and played guitar in an old time string band. Having worked for clients with supply chains and customers in Vietnam, Dorothy is immensely excited to join VIA as a USAID COMET Fellow based in Da Nang.  Having studied French and Arabic in high school and college, Dorothy is excited to dive in to learning Vietnamese.

 Kalli McCoy

Kalli McCoy

Ouyang Yu Experimental Middle School – China

Kalli McCoy grew up nomadically, spending her childhood living abroad in places such as Australia, Dubai, Louisiana, Singapore, and Oman, but she calls the lovely mountain town of Evergreen, Colorado home. She recently received a BA  in International Affairs and Asian Studies while at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she took advantage of the nation’s capital and interned at various non profits. After studying abroad in Beijing her junior year, she became enamored with all things related to Chinese culture, language, and food. She is excited for the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of local Chinese culture, improve her Chinese, and facilitate cultural exchange between China and the US.

 Gabi Ross

Gabi Ross

Gadjah Mada University – Indonesia

Gabi grew up in a small town in Massachusetts, where even being just 3/16ths Indonesian made her stand out. Now, about to spend a year teaching at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, she couldn’t be more excited to finally be connecting with that part of her heritage. She is especially looking forward to learning Bahasa! Gabi is about to graduate from American University in Washington, DC with a B.A. in International Studies, in which she concentrated on international development in South and Southeast Asia. She is particularly passionate about education for development and is thrilled to be gaining an insider perspective into the Indonesian education system. In the future, she hopes to continue to work in the region promoting access to education for girls. Gabi can’t wait for all the professional and personal growth a year with VIA will inevitably bring – but has to admit, she may be equally excited just for the food!

 Tiffany Teng

Tiffany Teng

Inle Heritage Hospitality Vocational Training Center – Myanmar

Tiffany is a marketing professional and writer exploring new skills with an international experience in Asia. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent the past 3 years living and working in New York City. In the past, she has worked with non-profit organizations on issues such as homelessness and sustainability. She graduated in 2013 from The College of New Jersey with degrees in Marketing and English. She’s excited to teach at Inle Heritage Hospitality Vocational School, where she will gain firsthand experience in a unique location in Myanmar (where her father spent his childhood!), a place thriving with change. VIA is a great way to live and work in a country where the work done can directly engage the communities. Her goals are to continue working internationally and build sustainable communities.

 Sam Wu

Sam Wu

GETCH – China

True to her home state’s nickname the “Garden State,” Sam has a love of all things in nature and recently graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor’s degree in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology with minors in Global Health & Health Policy and Chinese Language & Culture. Sam is thrilled to be joining the VIA community and to work with GETCH for a whole year! She believes that a VIA fellowship in China (and in her parents’ hometown) is an intersection between her deep-seated interest in civic engagement and her personal identity as a Chinese-American. Sam hopes to work closely with the teachers at GETCH to support students in developing their confidence and realizing their own potential for success. She also hopes to learn more about issues of disability access and inequities in China through her host organization.