Even though Seraphina Buckholtz ’20 is a creative writing major, English isn’t the only language she’s mastered.
At Hamilton, she’s studying French, Spanish, and Arabic — all on top of her regular course requirements. This summer, Buckholtz took her foreign language studies outside of the classroom and into the larger world.
Through the CET Jordan Summer Internship program, Buckholtz interned with AlHadaf (“The Purpose”), an NGO dedicated to teaching English to orphans and refugees preparing to resettle in other countries. Working just outside Amman, Jordan, Buckholtz combined her internship with intensive classes in Arabic at the University of Jordan and upheld an Arabic language pledge outside of her job.
“I want to find a way to help other people while using language,” she said. “I’ve taught English to non-native speakers before at Hamilton through Project SHINE, but I had a new perspective now that I was trying to learn a new language while living in a country where that was the primary language.”
Major: Creative writing
Hometown: Ithaca, N.Y.
High school: Ithaca High School
For her work, Buckholtz planned activities for a summer camp, made lesson plans, put together English vocabulary lists, and led an English language conversation club for Iraqi women refugees preparing to resettle in English speaking countries.
“If they didn’t understand a word, we would try to explain it in English or through pictures before giving them the definition in Arabic. This is the same technique our teachers used with us in our Arabic classes — many of our teachers actually didn’t speak English,” she said.
While Buckholtz already knew her passion was for foreign languages, she said that this internship helped put her on a path toward a more defined career.
“I am considering working in refugee resettlement after graduation, and this was a chance for me to further explore that field—and learn how I can best contribute while developing and utilizing my Arabic. I’m still interested in working in refugee settlement, but I want to find a way to do so that utilizes foreign language more. I could see myself helping new families resettle before they’ve had a chance to learn English, like helping with rent, grocery shopping, doctor’s visits, and more.”
Buckholtz’s internship was made possible by the Class of 1983 Gift.