Kyle Bell, ’09, a Latin American and Iberian studies (LAIS) and history double major, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to teach English in Madrid, Spain this coming fall. The prestigious grant sends Americans abroad and brings representatives of other countries to the United States to foster leadership, learning and empathy between cultures.

How did you decide to apply for a Fulbright?

When I was a sophomore, a friend of my older brother went through the application process. Hearing him talk about it planted the idea in my head. I studied abroad in Bilbao, Spain, during my junior year and had an incredible experience. When I returned to Richmond, I realized that winning the Fulbright might take me back to Spain. I applied to teach English for 10 months and was really excited when I found out I’d been selected.

Tell me about what you’ll be doing in Spain.

When you complete a Fulbright teaching assistantship, you’re expected to propose a secondary, volunteer project as well. I submitted a proposal to work with local museums, helping them with English translations. While I was abroad I noticed that a lot of the smaller museums had pretty shoddy translations — not really clear or well written. There is a definite need, and it’s an area where I’ll really be able to help. It also complements Fulbright’s mission to promote cross-cultural understanding, and it’s a great way for my two majors to come together.

How did your majors intersect while you were at Richmond?

They definitely came together most in my senior thesis, which I wrote on Jimmy Carter and the Hispanic community. I spent a lot of time looking at primary sources, so even though the project was for my history major, my LAIS major definitely came into play as I read through numerous Hispanic newspapers from the 1970s.

What did your thesis focus on?

I looked at Jimmy Carter’s popularity within the Hispanic community in the 1970s — from his campaign through his presidency (1976–1980). Though initially he was incredibly popular with the Hispanic community, even speaking Spanish at rallies, his popularity with Spanish voters declined drastically during his term as president. I looked into the domestic policy issues during his administration and the ways in which his initiatives dissapointed the Hispanic community.

What does the future hold after you return from Spain?

I’m hoping my 10 months in Spain will help me answer that question. I think the opportunity to teach English will help me to figure out the next step. I was a teaching assistant in the Spanish practicums here at Richmond, and it was something I enjoyed, so I think my time in Madrid will be a chance to find out if I can be an effective teacher.