Zoe Martens ’16 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Mexico. She will depart for Mexico in August.
At Oberlin, Martens majored in comparative American studies and minored in dance and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies. She served as an instructor and mentor for elementary- and middle school-aged girls as part of Girls in Motion, helped teach Spanish to kindergarten and first-grade students as part of the Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) program, and assisted with youth after-school programming at El Centro, a Lorain County social services provider. She also danced with contact improvisation groups, Oberlin Dance Company, and Oberlin’s hip hop fusion dance troupe, Koreo.
“I applied for this fellowship because I want to deepen my understanding of U.S.-Mexico relations and the effects on youth of such asymmetry between two proximate countries,” Martens says. “Because I want to be an educator in the future and work with migrant student populations, I hope my time in Mexico will give me more knowledge I can use to enter into dialogue with my students. I aspire to be an educator that explicitly values students’ lived experiences and uses personal experiences as the lens to critically interrogate larger societal structures and patterns.”
Martens attended a Spanish language school and lived with a host family in Oaxaca for one month during summer 2014 and participated in the Border Studies Program (BSP) in Tucson, Arizona, in spring 2015. “During my time with BSP, I had the opportunity to learn about the political, social, and economic roots of migration and to travel to border towns, including in the Sonoran region of Mexico,” she says. “I also traveled to the Southern region of Chiapas to learn about contemporary Zapatista resistance to foreign investment projects and to compare the Southern Mexico-Guatemala border with the U.S.-Mexico border.”
She says she hopes to travel to southern Mexico to visit several migrant justice organizations she was introduced to through BSP during her fellowship. She adds she would also like to visit Mexico City.
Martens says several winter-term teaching experiences helped prepare her for this fellowship. She additionally credits her fellow Oberlin students. “My peers at Oberlin have challenged me to consistently educate myself and think critically about the work I want to do at Oberlin and beyond, which prepares me to have honest conversations with the people I will meet while abroad.”