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Popa ’24 to Study Romanian Folklore on Fulbright Grant

young woman in white t-shirt, glasses, blonde hair pulled up sits on balcony overlooking European village
Gabi Popa ’24 on a 2021 trip to Romania. Popa will spend an academic year in the country, teaching English and studying folklore, on a Fulbright grant. Courtesy photo

As a Theatre Education major, Gabi Popa ’24 has been learning about crafting stories and passing along skills. She’ll have the opportunity to do both this fall in Romania on a prestigious Fulbright grant.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, administered by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) allows U.S. students in any academic discipline to study and/or teach in more than 140 countries worldwide. Students live with host families, immerse themselves in the culture and community, teach English, and pursue their own scholarly interests.

We asked Popa how she’ll be spending her time abroad.

What will you be doing in Romania?

Gabi Popa head shot
Gabi Popa ’24. Courtesy photo

I will be teaching at a university for the 2024-2025 school year, and doing independent research on Romanian folklore, mythology, and storytelling.

Why did you choose Romania?

I chose this place because it is where my dad is from. He has always been one of my biggest inspirations and role models. Like so many from his generation, he left after the Romanian revolution. However, both he and my mom have made sure to celebrate our roots throughout my sister’s and [my] life and teach us about where our family is from at every opportunity.

My Romanian heritage and my deep love of education and learning are key points of my identity, so Fulbright serves as a chance to combine both loves of mine into one experience.

What are you most looking forward to?

Exploring the stories of Romania and forming my own as a part of that. I’ve grown up hearing stories from my dad and grandmother, but it’s a whole other thing to get to have that lived experience yourself.

What do you hope to do after Emerson?

After Emerson and Fulbright, I hope to attend grad school abroad and hopefully get my master’s in literature with a concentration in folklore and mythology before returning to the United States to work as a teacher.

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