2017-2018 Fellows


Chennal Breen

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Chennal is a returning VIA fellow who has been living in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for the past year and a half. She is currently posted and working within the English program at the vocational school at Universitas Gadjah Mada, UGM. Life in Yogyakarta has been unlike anything Chennal has experienced before, which is why she is thrilled to call it home for another year. Prior to joining the VIA community in 2015, Chennal graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz where she majored in Legal Studies and minored in Education. Chennal’s motivation for joining the VIA community rests in her passion for exploring and understanding more about systems of education around the world. More specifically, Chennal would like to pursue research in understanding the impact of religion and culture on gender constructs in different communities. In the coming year at the vocational school at UGM, Chennal hopes to continue developing her teaching skills, studying Bahasa Indonesia and continue connecting with the community within Yogyakarta.

Paige Chisholm

Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Monica Chritton

Inle Heritage Hospitality Vocational Training Center – Inle Lake, Myanmar

Monica Chritton graduated in May 2017 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Marketing.  While at Madison, Monica has worked as a teaching assistant in the UW School of Business and as a research intern at the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.  She also served as a marketing director for the university’s student music programming committee and as support staff at a yoga studio.  Monica was born in Beijing and lived in Long Island, New York and Atlanta, Georgia before her family later relocated to Singapore for eleven years until she started university.  Monica visited different parts of Asia while growing up, and she returned in 2016 to study for a semester at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.  Monica is eager to learn about Burmese language and culture as well as the changes taking place in Myanmar, and feels lucky to have the chance to do so at the VIA post at Inle Lake.  Monica’s parents met when her father was a VIA teacher in Beijing 1984-86.  She has two brothers, Ted and Thomas.

Rebekka Flam

BEAM – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Born in Finland and raised in sunny Florida, Rebekka developed a love for travel at a young age. In high school, she embarked on her first solo journey as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Taiwan. Since then, she spent a semester in Italy, worked summers in Finland, and volunteered as an environmental educator in Nepal. In 2015, Rebekka graduated from Florida State University with a BS in International Affairs and Environmental Studies. Her international experiences and her job at the FSU Center for Global Engagement sparked her interest in sustainable development and experiential education.

In 2016, Rebekka flew to Southeast Asia to work with The JUMP! Foundation as an experiential facilitator. While working at a JUMP! Leadership Conference in Chiang Mai, she discovered BEAM and their positive impact on education for Burmese migrant youth. Inspired by the conference, she applied to work with BEAM as a 2017 VIA fellow. Rebekka is thrilled to be returning to Chiang Mai and continue her work in the field of sustainable development and education. She hopes to connect with her students by learning more about Burmese and Thai culture and eating lots of vegetarian khao soi.

Erik Hammarlund

VIA Indonesia – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Erik is immensely excited to be part of the VIA community and to return to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, one of his favorite cities in the world. He previously spent a month in the city as part of a unique study abroad program that took him to ten countries in Asia over the course of a year, introducing him to the continent in an unforgettable manner. Erik was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and received his BA in Comparative Politics and Asian Studies at the nearby University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, where he also studied Chinese and Indonesian. His interest in teaching English stems in part from the example of his mother, a professor of English as a Second Language at a local college, who has modeled the fulfillment and pleasure of a career teaching languages. Erik has spent the past year with a well-regarded law firm back home in Seattle, and is looking forward to returning to Indonesia and experiencing life in that country on a more permanent basis. Outside of travel and teaching, Erik enjoys hiking, skiing, long-distance running, and the burgeoning sport of American soccer.

 Catherine HendrenCatherine Hendren

Yangon Pre-Collegiate Program – Myanmar

Catherine joined the fellowship as part of the 2016 cohort and is continuing her post at the Pre-Collegiate Program in Yangon. She 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.

William Hunter

VIA Indonesia – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

William Hunter grew up just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, and spent his adolescence developing a passion for music and learning about foreign cultures. He attended Clemson University where he focused his studies on US-China relations and contemporary Balkan politics. In the spring of 2012 William conducted a research project throughout the nations of former Yugoslavia and, after graduating in 2013 with a BA in political science, he returned to the Balkan Peninsula on a 27 month assignment with the United States Peace Corps mission to the Republic of Albania. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, he worked as a teacher and youth development organizer in a rural Albanian district. Additionally, William spent much of his free time during his Peace Corps service assisting various NGOs based out of Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo as a translator and refugee relief worker.

William is excited to begin this next chapter of his life as a VIA Fellow, as it will afford him the opportunity to experience a culture and region he has been curious about since his childhood. He looks forward to teaching and sharing his experiences with his new host community and hopes that the connections and knowledge he acquires as a VIA Fellow will benefit his ultimate goal of pursuing a career in sustainable economic development and international peace-building.

Kelly Schneider

School for Midwives – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Kelly was born and raised in a small, rural Virginia town before moving to the suburbs of Washington, DC. There she attended George Mason University, where she earned a BS in Psychology, with minors in Social Justice and Neuroscience. She spent her time there exploring the nation’s capital, learning and engaging with different people and organizations with roots in social justice.

The summer of her junior year, she participated in a Gender and Conflict program run through VIA in Indonesia and completely fell in love with the people and culture of Yogyakarta. As the program came to a close, her curiosity and desire to return continued to grow. She is thrilled to return as a VIA fellow, and hopes to learn as much as possible from her students and community throughout the year!

Emily Stephenson

Pre-Collegiate Program (PCP) – Yangon, Myanmar

Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Emily graduated from Centre College in 2015 with a BA in French and minors in Biology and Chemistry. During her third year at Centre, she spent a semester abroad in Strasbourg, France, and subsequently returned to Strasbourg after her semester stay to complete an internship at the IGBMC, an international biomedical institute. During her time abroad, Emily realized how valuable cross-cultural experience could be, so the decision to move to England to complete her Master of Public Health degree seemed like a perfect next step after graduating from Centre in 2015. After completing her Rotary Global Grant Scholarship in the UK, Emily packed her bags and moved to Lusaka, Zambia to complete a behavioral research fellowship at the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). This move challenged her in new ways and affirmed her passion for international development work.

While Emily has loved immersing herself in the field of health-focused social research, she still felt she needed to explore other sides of the development world, particularly education. A first-time visitor to Asia, Emily is thrilled to join the VIA community and further expand her understanding of the development sector. She cannot wait to share her passion for the liberal arts with students this year at the Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon and is grateful for the opportunity to work with the next generation of change makers in the unique and diverse city of Yangon.