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Alumna awarded Fulbright fellowship to teach in Tunisia

Andrea Calabretta, MFA ’07, has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to teach at the University of Sousse in Tunisia for the 2011–2012 academic year. She will teach English, but with a special focus: English for travel and tourism.

Despite being “off the radar” to most Americans, Tunisia, located in Northern Africa, has all the makings of a great travel destination, says Calabretta, who visited the country with the travel company she works for as a senior writer. “When I was there, I was really struck by how cool of a destination it was…It has historical aspects like Roman ruins in Carthage and also this incredible coastline and the Sahara Desert.”

Calabretta learned, however, that despite the country’s potential as a vacation destination, the training and education for people pursuing careers in travel and tourism was lacking. She saw her opportunity to make a difference: She put together a Fulbright proposal for teaching people both creative marketing techniques to attract people to Tunisia, and also the English language skills that would be useful to them in tourism careers.

She submitted her application materials last August, and much to her delight, she learned that she’d been awarded the Fulbright grant earlier this month. “Even when I was at Emerson, I was pursuing freelance writing in travel and food,” she says, and now she will have the opportunity to fulfill her dream to write and travel in a place she loves. “I fell in love with Tunisia. I love the people and the culture, and it is just a very warm, hospitable place.”

When Calabretta applied for the grant, the recent revolution in the country had not yet occurred, but she says that being in Tunisia in the revolution’s aftermath and during the formation of a new democratic form of government “is almost more exciting” to her. “While it’s true that tourism isn’t booming right now, I anticipate it will be again,” says Calabretta. “I think [Tunisians] are looking forward as a country, and the young people especially are looking toward the future and what’s going to make them successful. Tourism is going to be very relevant in the new economy.”

Once she starts her teaching job in September, she hopes to set up some sort of collaboration between her students in Tunisia and Emerson students in Boston. “I think it would be a great experience for both Emerson students in marketing and the students in Tunisia,” she says.

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