Jillian Yates

Jillian Yates, ’24

November 13, 2023

A Burhans Civic Fellowship provides biology major new perspectives and teaching experience in Indonesia

By Joanne Bong, ’25, Communications Assistant for Equity & Community

More than 10,000 miles away from the University of Richmond’s campus you can find the lively and diverse "English Village" in East Java, Indonesia. The village is unique for its residents who strive to primarily speak English. It is known as a well-established area for affordable English language programs and attracts people from all around Indonesia to study the language.

Biology major Jillian Yates, '24, interned in Pare at a program called Basic English Course (BEC) for her Burhans Civic Fellowship, a Bonner Center for Civic Engagement program that provides funding for students completing academically-grounded summer internships.

Yates' faculty mentor, UR director of English language learning Dr. Leslie Bohon, had worked with the team at Basic English Course to create the internship experience.

"The demand for English language instruction in Indonesia is increasingly growing and crucial for educational and professional development," Bohon said. "This Global EFL Teaching and Culture Internship program was designed to facilitate an experience where the student can not only learn about another culture, but also share their own."

Interns like Yates give the Pare students an opportunity to talk with a native English speaker and provide a cultural context to their learning.

"Each intern had their own study groups and students. We met with them every single day and would talk about culture in the United States," Yates said. "The students were really interested in learning about tourist attractions and everyday life in the U.S., and I was able to really get to know them."

The English intensive courses focused on speaking and grammar, and the teaching experience proved to be a valuable experience for Yates who plans on pursuing academia and becoming a professor one day. She believes that teaching abroad and understanding different educational systems could be invaluable in achieving that goal.

"Intercultural experience offers a different perspective on education that you could never gain solely in a U.S. setting," said Yates who also received a Weinstein Grant to cover her airfare.

Part of the Civic Fellowship experience included an academic project, and Yates’ research focused on women and gender dynamics within Indonesian classrooms.

"Jillian’s academic project allowed her to take a step back and reflect on her experiences and attach deeper meaning to them," Bohon said. "In this case, because her experience was cross-cultural, Jillian could make all of these connections between the day-to-day of the internship and her classes at school, independent research, and personal interests in academia and women's studies."

Yates’ work in Indonesia was not only educational but also provided personal growth. She shared fond memories of working closely with her fellow teachers on lesson plans and deepening her connections with people who shared her passion for education.

"I created lasting friendships," Yates reflected. "I’m sad I had to come back so soon and leave the people I made a connection with but I’m so grateful that I got to meet them."