Jolie DeFeis, a May 2015 graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa. A psychology major with a minor in gender, sexuality and feminist studies, DeFeis will spend nine months teaching English and living in South Africa. She says she chose the country because she is interested in learning the culture and history, particularly how the education system has evolved since the end of apartheid.
“I’m passionate about public health, violence prevention, and harm reduction—issues that are particularly salient in South Africa, which has extraordinarily high rates of sexualized violence and HIV/AIDS transmission. Spending an extended period of time in the country will inform my career as a healthcare provider and educator, as well as give me practical experience working with at-risk communities cross-culturally,” she says.
A native of Larchmont, New York, DeFeis has previous experience with teaching and studying abroad. She studied abroad for a semester in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spent a summer teaching at the Kibera School for Girls in the Kibera Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. She spent a winter term tutoring math at local elementary schools through the America Counts program, and on campus she taught an Experimental College course on sexual education.
In addition to her studies, DeFeis was co-coordinator of the Oberlin HIV Peer Testing Program and a staffer, peer counselor, and educator at the Sexual Information Center. At Oberlin, she cofounded Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct (PRSM), which is a peer-led sexualized violence prevention program on campus, and served on the administrative board of the Peer Support Center. In the psychology department, she conducted research on PRSM to evaluate the program’s efficacy.