2022-2023 Fellows

Jenny Chen

BEAM Education Foundation – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Jenny grew up in Farmington, Connecticut with minimal exposure to cultural exchange or diversity. As one of the few ethnic minorities in her town, she sought to blend in with her peers and hide many aspects of her cultural background. It was not until she traveled across the country to attend UC Berkeley that she gained an awareness of and appreciation for the complexity that comes with being Asian American, motivating her to seek further knowledge and understanding of cultural identities across Asia.

She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2021 with a BA in Cognitive Science, finding importance in viewing problems from interdisciplinary lenses. In particular, she is fascinated with understanding cross-cultural identity in relation to language and individual psychology. She is excited to take her ever-growing knowledge and love of learning about various histories and cultures to her role as a teacher and youth program associate at BEAM Education Foundation in Chiang Mai. Throughout the year, she hopes to provide educational opportunities for marginalized youth in the Chiang Mai area and learn more about the nuances of Thai and Burmese culture. She is incredibly grateful to VIA for this opportunity to support meaningful projects and empower youth to create positive change.

Betty Nguyen

Shonan Shijuku – Izumi Otsu, Japan

Betty Nguyen comes from powerful communities that create homes and life despite global displacement. She was born and raised in Ohlone Land, also known as San Jose, California. Her BS in Biology (from Stanford) stems from an obsession with thriving organisms and ecosystems, and her MA in Arts in Medicine (from the University of Florida) draws from the ability of the multidisciplinary arts to promote embodied belonging for those displaced and out-of-place. She appreciates VIA’s role in strengthening international solidarity on social causes and hopes to make meaningful relationships, collaboratively create something beautiful, celebrate communities, and cultivate belonging in the other side of the Pacific during the fellowship and beyond. On the side, she is taking long walks, subtly practicing her language (English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Vietnamese and more recently Korean and Thai) skills and quietly planting some seeds to make a film that involves dreamscapes and everyone who has impacted her life.

Frances Osran

Parami University – Mae Sot, Thailand

Fannie grew up in rural Templeton, California. Growing up Jewish in a predominantly Christian community taught Fannie the importance of cultural exchange and tolerance early on. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2021 with a BA in Legal Studies and a minor in Human Rights. Fannie got her first taste of Southeast Asia during her study abroad experience in Singapore. Through traveling across the region, she fell in love with learning about the history and culture of the places she visited and knew she wanted to continue that learning post-grad.

At Berkeley, Fannie dedicated her time to student advocacy by holistically supporting students accused of violating the Code of Conduct as a student public defender, while advocating for a range of university policy changes aimed to better students’ lives. She served as a student representative on numerous policy committees, which addressed issues ranging from student mental health to sexual assault and harassment on campus. Fannie explored her interest in human rights work by supporting the Berkeley Law Human Rights Center as a member of the Digital Verification Corps, where she discovered and authenticated evidence of human rights abuses globally. She is planning on attending law school in the future, eventually pursuing a career in public defense or human rights law.

Fannie will be working at Parami University as an Academic Program Advisor and at the Minmahaw School teaching their Career course. Fannie is incredibly excited to be doing what she loves most – working individually with students to help them achieve their goals. She is looking forward to living in Mae Sot, Thailand and cannot wait to learn more about both Thai and Burmese culture!

Lynn Travnikova

Parami University – Mae Sot, Thailand

Lynn Travnikova was born and raised in London, but would say she’s from all the places and people that have impacted her over the course of her life. She received her undergraduate degree in International Studies with a Middle Eastern and North African focus from Middlebury College in Vermont.

Lynn is passionate about connection, and is always seeking to deepen her ability to connect with people across barriers, be they based on language, identity, perspective or otherwise. Recently she’s been enjoying the expression “A smile is the shortest distance between two people.” She finds meaning in nature, engaging in and learning about spiritualities and religions, traveling, painting, reading, learning, and more.

Being a VIA fellow at Parami University, Lynn looks forward to helping students as they carve out their paths in life, supporting them in the liberal arts journey and the growth that comes with it. She’s excited to engage with new languages, cultures and perspectives in the process. Holding an interest in education/pedagogy and international education in particular, this role is an invaluable opportunity for her develop skills and knowledge in these fields. As to future plans, she’s just letting things happen for the moment.