A leader who has a desire to teach others, Geoff Nolan, 22, is one of 30 Americans who will travel to Colombia as a part of the Fulbright Scholar Program, the U.S. government’s flagship program in international educational exchange.
A 2013 University of Georgia graduate, Nolan has received a Fulbright Scholarship to serve as an assistant teacher of English at the Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, the fourth largest city in Colombia. A member of the Newton High School Class of 2009, he said he will be working in the classroom with a professor at the university, where he will teach and conduct American culture seminars.
Nolan applied for the Fulbright Scholar Program last May and was interviewed by the Fulbright Scholar Program Commission in September. He learned that he was accepted in March. The grant is paid by the U.S. State Department and the Office of International Education, and includes a monthly stipend that will cover Nolan’s living expenses, meals and housing. His assistantship runs from August until May 2014.
Nolan said the trip to Colombia won’t be his first venture outside the United States.
"At UGA, I had the opportunity to study abroad twice. I studied for a Maymester program right after my freshman year in Costa Rica and in my junior year, I did a whole semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I actually got a scholarship through the honors program at UGA, to study in Buenos Aires," Nolan said.
The bilingual, Spanish and international affairs major has participated in a number of other programs, helping internationals and others through community service projects.
"I was spring break sight leader for IMPACT, which is an organization that provides affordable spring break service-learning trips to UGA students,’’ Nolan said. "So, I led one trip that focused on immigration issues for the week, and we worked with the immigrant and refugee population in Charlotte, N.C., and then in Atlanta."
This past spring break, Nolan led at trip to Asheboro, N.C., where the students worked with Habitat for Humanity and built a house in a week.
"I also had the opportunity to be an orientation leader, which only 12 students out of the whole UGA student body were accepted to do… I led small groups of freshmen and transfer orientation students for the summer and helped them adjust to UGA."
Nolan credits his interest in helping people to his parents, Todd and Beth Nolan of Covington.
"My parents always taught me to serve others, and that was always a valuable way to use your time; and to empathize with people’s situations," he said. "When I got into high school and college, I had great teachers and professors who really emphasized that point."
As for the future, Nolan said he would like to go into some form of international law or become a humanitarian in Latin America. Once his Fulbright assistantship comes to an end next year, he hopes to begin his career with a job in Colombia teaching English.
Nolan said that growing up in Covington, he never imagined that he would get to travel internationally, and shared his philosophy on trying new things.
"I’ve always tried to live out of my comfort zone. And I’ve always tried to push those boundaries," he said. "I never thought that I would have the opportunity to go and live in another country. I always grew up wanting to travel and wanting to see other parts of the world, but I never thought that I would get to go live in Argentina for a semester, go pick up and move and live in Colombia for a year or more.
"I’ve always just tried to constantly push those boundaries and make sure that I could go as far as I could go."