A Wofford College sophomore was selected for a fellowship announced by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, the country’s prime minister and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on St. Patrick’s Day.
Isaiah Franco, a Spanish and international affairs major from Newtown, Pennsylvania, will spend four weeks in Dublin for a fully-funded study abroad experience as a Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship fellow. The fellowship is sponsored by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity to go abroad fully funded and learn in a place that was so formative for Frederick Douglass nearly 170 years ago,” says Franco. “I am also honored to be on the receiving end of the efforts of the Irish government. Most importantly though, I cannot wait to learn from the 13 other fellows. I am certain they are incredible folks who will push me to grow so much during our time together in Dublin. I cannot wait to explore the city and country and connect the past liberation struggles of the Irish to the ongoing fight against racism in the United States. I hope to bring back knowledge that will help me continue to fight for justice here.”
Franco is one of 14 fellows in the United States selected for the highly selective fellowship, which had more than 500 applicants – a program record.
“Frederick Douglass was transformed by his time in Ireland and returned to America in 1847 as a free man, spending the next 50 years of his life agitating for positive change in our world,” says James P. Pellow, president and CEO of CIEE. “We know this group of exceptional students will have a similar transformative experience in Ireland and return home with enhanced skills and passion to change our world for the better.”
Fellows were selected based on traits demonstrated by Douglass, an American abolitionist, including an emphasis on leadership, social justice, agitation for positive change and cross-cultural understanding. Franco is a sophomore delegate in Campus Union, Wofford’s student government association. He’s also a student coordinator in the college’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
“Having worked with Isaiah since his first year, I was thrilled that he was selected as a Frederick Douglass Global Fellow,” says Amy Lancaster, Wofford’s dean of international programs. “Isaiah is a dedicated and thoughtful student leader who has already made a tremendous impact on our campus in his brief time as Terrier. I cannot wait to see him integrate what he learns this summer into his work back on campus, both in and outside of the classroom, and we’re grateful to CIEE and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs for their support of these tremendously talented students.”
This will be Franco’s second study abroad experience. He spent Interim 2020 in Mérida, Mexico.
“The chance to study abroad with CIEE last interim pushed me to become more independent, more fluent in Spanish and more confident in my ability to make my goals reality,” says Franco. “I hope my four weeks in Dublin will build on my Intercultural experience in Mexico and push me to learn even more.”
This is Wofford’s first year of eligibility to nominate students for the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, which seeks to increase access to study abroad opportunities for underrepresented students. Recognizing the value of this opportunity, Wofford President Dr. Nayef Samhat agreed to match the CIEE Summer Scholars grant, which is a grant awarded to all Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship applicants. Two Wofford students are eligible for the grant and funding from the college to support a summer study abroad experience.
Douglass spent four months in Ireland in 1845 after escaping slavery in the United States and writing the book “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave.”