Ms. Erin Bennett
Specialization: Education
Home institution in US: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Host Institution in India: Rotary Laharry Matriculation Hr. Sec. School, Madurai, Tamil Nadu  
Start date/Month in India: 26 June 2012
Duration of grant: 9 months

Brief Bio:
Ms. Erin Bennett earned a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in May 2012 with three majors: languages and cultures of Asia, French, and international studies. She is a member of the honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Erin studied abroad in Pune, India in the summer of 2010 and in Paris, France in the summer of 2011. In India, Erin worked as an assistant teacher in an English-medium elementary school and conducted research on enhancing English listening skills. In France, Erin studied French art history and modern Francophone culture. Erin is a certified yoga instructor and teaches yoga and meditation classes in Madison, Wisconsin. In her free time, Erin enjoys reading novels, playing guitar and cooking. She also enjoys learning new languages and has studied French, Hindi, German and Italian. After completing her Fulbright-Nehru English Teaching Assistantship, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in South Asian studies.

Ms. Bennett’s Fulbright research project, “Women, Literacy, and the Indian Education System in Madurai, India,” will involve probing into the following questions: What are the causes, both within the Indian education system and outside of the Indian education system, for Indian women’s lower literacy rate? What are the effects, short term and long term, of this lower literacy rate for the female population’s quality of life and India’s social, economic and educational development? Are any current governmental or non-governmental projects designed to increase women’s literacy in India? If so, what is the nature of these projects and how effective are they? In order to carry out her research, Ms. Bennett plans to conduct interviews with students and school faculty; to observe classes and to teach classes; and to come into contact with organizations such as Saakshar Bharat Mission for Female Literacy and other local organizations that operate with a mission of improving educational standards and opportunities for women.