My name is Courtenay Houk, and I am presently a sophomore studying liberal arts with a focus in French and Chinese languages and cultures at Bennington College in Vermont.
As a requirement for my school, I am fulfilling an annual internship we call "Field Work Term," and this year I am incredibly fortunate to have a place at Refugee Transitions. I chose to spend this time with Refugee Transitions because it is an organization that encompasses my passions for language, culture, and helping others.
Though I am native to Pennsylvania, I have also lived in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, People's Republic of China and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. For the past eight years, I have been living in southern Vermont.
Both of my parents are teachers, and have always inspired and encouraged my love for learning - especially regarding foreign peoples and cultures. In the future, I hope to hone the skills necessary to become a translator and interpreter so that I might find work as a "cultural bridge-builder" in order to help relieve misunderstanding between people of differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Name: Courtenay Houk
Neighborhood: Bennington, Vermont
Job: RT Intern/ESL Tutor
RT programs/events you’ve participated in: I will be tutoring at the after-school programs at SFIHS and OIHS, and plan on attending volunteer trainings and the volunteer happy hour on January 26th :)
What are your hobbies? Reading, running, photography, LGBTQ activism/awareness-raising, learning about foreign languages, cultures, and customs.
If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would that person be? My grandfather. He died before I was born, and I have always wondered what sort of person he would be today and what my relationship with him might have been like.
What is your favorite book? Whatever book I am currently reading...presently, it's The Wrestler's Cruel Study by Stephen Dobyns.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go, and what would you do? I am hoping to study abroad in Kunming, Yunnan Province, People's Republic of China in Fall 2011 and in Grenoble, France in Spring 2012 for my junior year of college.
If you could instantly learn how to do anything, what would that be? Acquiring immediate and long-term fluency in French and Chinese - the two languages I am presently learning in school.
Who has been the most influential teacher in your life so far? My parents.
Yesterday was my first day at RT, and I already feel so much at home. I am very excited to start working with students at the San Francisco and Oakland International High Schools, and to do whatever I can to help make their transition into the American school system an easier process.