PiA Fellow Facebook

2007-2008

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Clare Sheng

Kunming, China

After mastering the intricate art of cow milking in the Masai highlands, surviving the bargain-training boot camps in the bazaars of Istanbul, and enduring armies of tourists while living across from the national zoo in Washington, DC, Clare Ye Sheng is ready for the challenge of speaking Mandarin with an undetectable Shanghai accent in Kunming. Clare studied international relations, Asian studies, international development and communications at American University and then worked at an international development firm where she was perpetually jet lagged and loved it. She is thrilled about exploring southern China, learning Kunminghua, and searching for the best Chinese cuisine in the local dives.

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Elizabeth Skeen

Khon Kaen, Thailand

Liz (seen here modeling in Thailand) loves fish sauce,chillies, dried shrimp, tomatoes, and papayas. Luckily she currently isin Khon Kaen, where these five ingredients combine to form "somtom." This magnificant (and highly misunderstood) dish is a regional specialty in Northeast Thailand and one of the many reasons why Lizfeels she's blessed to live her. In addition to eating som tom, Lizenjoys teaching Business English to over 100 plucky Thais, and and inthe process, learning herself what the the four P's of the marketingmix are -- price, product, promotion, and place! Liz especially looksforward to her latest endeavor at Khon Kaen University: teaching saidBusiness English students a special elective on "How to be Cool inEnglish." The first lesson? "Leaving Doraemon at the Door: LearningWhen Cartoon Characters Are Not Cool." Finally, Liz encourages anyoneand everyone to crash at her one-room apartment. Cheers to all fromThailand!

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Naomi Sleeper

Bangkok, Thailand

Naomi grew a fondness for elephants as a Jumbo at Tufts, where she majored in philosophy and environmental studies and wrote her senior thesis on environmental refugees. During her tenure there, she also spent time eating pastries in France and critiquing gelato in Italy. In between years of teaching in California and writing textbooks in New York, she traveled to Ecuador, where she discovered that guinea pig (cuy) can also make a tasty treat. After befriending sea turtles in the Galapagos, she decided that it was time to return to her college roots by acquainting herself with the elephant on a more personal level. Naomi looks forward to hiking, biking, climbing, and, of course, tasting her way through Asia with other PiAers.

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Marianne Smallwood

Hanoi, Vietnam

After spending two years in a corporate cubicle honing her Excel skills while dreaming of 24-hour pho, Marianne departed for Hanoi in June of 2006 to work with Child Fund in Vietnam. She quickly set a precedent as being one of the city’s only nutty foreigners to insist on bicycling throughout Hanoi’s sweaty summers, much to the chagrin of her coworkers. At Child Fund, Marianne works on both internal policy writing and program software and evaluation, putting her corporate skills to good use in an NGO environment. After hours, Marianne volunteers with a local microfinance organization, searches for the best coffee in Hanoi (40 cafes down, 3,242,435 to go…), and learns Vietnamese with her teacher who considers Marianne’s half-Vietnamese heritage a birthright to perfect pronunciation. For occasional updates on Vietnam, check out her blog at http://phofromhome.blogspot.com.

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Ali Smith

Manila, Philippines

Ali Smith is originally from Bozeman, Montana. She graduated from Princeton in 2006 where she was a Religious Studies major, although her childhood dream was to become a newscaster. For the past year Ali has been living in Manila as a “foreign correspondant” at ABS-CBN, the largest news network in the Philippines. She has reported on a wide variety of things, from food festivals to election coverage. She has also landed an achoring spot on one of the local news casts. Aside from work, Ali devotes her time to learning Tagalog, volunteering with street kids, and hanging out with her Filipino friends.

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Helen Smith

Manila, Philippines

Helen Smith graduated from the University of Georgia in 2007 with a degree in international affairs and a penchant for wearing tutus to class. During her four years there, Helen spent a summer in Morocco learning what 40¡C felt like and a semester in Egypt ranking falafel from street vendors. Internships with worldchanging.com and the Carter Center were also highlights of her university career and furthered Helen’s interest in sustainable development and ability to answer Carter-era Trivial Pursuit questions. From her time as a DJ for WUOG 90.5fm, “Hot Skillet” Helen knows how to start a dance party and is looking forward to taking on the Philippines. Though not exactly a Southern belle, Helen will never give up grits or the efficient and fantastic “y’all.”

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James Smrikarov

Almaty, Kazakhstan

James was selected for PiA due to his enthusiasm for the Russian language and Central Asian culture, but not necessarily for his ability to write a blurb.

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Danny Snelson

Tokyo, Japan

At Princeton, Danny has been cast variously as Radio DJ, Cinephilic Miscreant, Gleeful RA, and The Author of the first two hypertextual romps on record at the Comp Lit Department: one on The Scream, another on Radical Poetry Zines. After a last summer in Salt Lake City, Utah, nestled in his Mormon Mother’s loving arms, he will ship out to the Mega Metropolis—Tokyo-to Herself—to face hordes of adorable Waka-Waka Wunderkinds and the joys of Temple Living. Eager to learn Japanese, decipher the TRTA and leap into Full Media Saturation, Danny’s sole remaining doubt consists in which Short Protectors he ought to purchase for the imminent dangers of the workplace.

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Ho-Ming So

Hanoi, Vietnam

Ho-Ming So came to the United States for college and could not believe what passed for pad thai in this part of the world. In an attempt to understand, she majored in Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures and got sidetracked by a concentration in Chinese Politics. Upon graduation she emerged from the cushy folds of Barnard College to dabble as a research assistant after a stint as an English teacher in China. She has also become increasingly enamored of rock climbing and nurtures the development of new calluses with the same passion and commitment she has for international development. She looks forward to further developing both these interests in Vietnam.

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Thomas Talhelm

Guangzhou, China

Thomas Talhelm is going to teach in Guangzhou, far from his birthplace of East Lansing, Michigan. Thomas plans to throw himself head on into learning Cantonese and also hopes to put exactly half of his majors (Spanish and psychology) to use by being the first Westerner to discover what makes the Chinese tick and why cultural relativism extends even to squatty potties. PiA has assured him that this insight will ensure instant tenure at a university of his choice, as well as book deals from major publishers.

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