Megan Grabill '21 Receives Fulbright Fellowship in Benin

May 20, 2021

Amanda Nagy

Megan Grabill.
Megan Grabill will teach English and become immersed in the culture of Benin.
Photo credit: Jonathan Clark '25

Megan Grabill ’21 hopes to deepen her knowledge of the culture and indigenous languages of Benin with a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Grabill, who majored in anthropology, comparative literature, and French, says the Fulbright in Benin appealed to her competency in French language and her previous research experience on the cultural heritage of Benin.

During a summer internship with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Grabill assisted with research for a festival program on traditional knowledge and the environment in Benin. “My own research focused on Vodun and the role of organic materials in divination practices, as well as a bit of work on cultural heritage management and sacred groves.”

Grabill says the Fulbright in Benin will provide an opportunity to deepen her knowledge of Beninois culture and facilitate moments of cultural exchange and understanding both in and out of the classroom. 

“I am hoping to learn some of the many indigenous languages in Benin (there are over 50, and it will depend on my site placement in the country). I also want to learn more about local art and music, as well as Vodun and related religious practices.”

During her time at Oberlin, Grabill gained study abroad experience in France. In fall 2019, she took classes at the Sorbonne, Sorbonne Nouvelle, and Paris 8/Saint-Denis. She also participated in a winter term study abroad with the French department focusing on "Colonization and its Aftermath in Martinique."

“Both of my study abroad experiences have placed me directly in a host family, which has both aided my language development and given me hands-on experience with cultural exchange,” says Grabill, who is from East Lansing, Michigan. 

Following the Fulbright fellowship, she plans to pursue a PhD in anthropology. She worked as a research assistant in the anthropology department and took cello lessons in the Conservatory of Music. 

“I hope that the skills I will develop in the next year will make me a more flexible, perceptive, and conscientious researcher,” she says.

Outside of academics, Grabill says her experience working with Oberlin College Folk Festival was influential for building relationships and learning about community engagement. She also served as treasurer for WOBC-FM, was a Peer Advising Leader, and was an attendant for the Allen Memorial Art Museum. 

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