After a year of working as a legal assistant at a law firm in Washington D.C., Emily Landon, a 2018 University of Richmond graduate, is ready to apply her skills and knowledge in the field. Landon, who majored in Arabic studies and international studies with a world politics and diplomacy concentration, as well as a minor in history, received a Fulbright award to teach English in Tajikistan beginning this fall.

“I studied Arabic in college but the Middle East for Fulbright is pretty tough,” Landon said. “Most of the Fulbrights [the selection committee] wants are master level students because they want university teachers.” 

After a conversation with a family friend who completed her PhD research in Tajikistan, Landon grew excited about the teaching opportunities there.

“The family friend I met with works with the State Department now,” Landon said. “10 years from now, if my career looks like hers, I would be really happy.” 

Landon was unable to study abroad for a semester while at UR because of her demanding schedule as a member of the women’s varsity swim team. However, she said being surrounded by inspiring and driven women for four years had prepared her for the work she would be doing abroad.  

“Athletics can be used to teach independence, responsibility and empowerment,” Landon said. “Sports can give women a sense of strength.” 

Landon said working with girls and women was important to her. In Tajikistan, she plans to create programs where she can help them discover and engage in hobbies they are interested in. 

“I think there’s going to be a lot of flexibility to lean in to the things I know about,” Landon said. “That’s really exciting.”

While at UR, Landon interned with the Digital Scholarship Lab and had the opportunity to use geographic information system (GIS) mapping to map inequalities within different regions. 

If there are opportunities to incorporate technology-centric work into her Fulbright experience, Landon hopes to use her knowledge in GIS mapping to help the communities better understand the inequities within and around their communities. 

During summer 2016, Landon traveled to Morocco with her Arabic professor, Martin Sulzer-Reichel, director of the Arabic language program, to work on an independent project, examining the correlations between education and quality of life.

“She had started out looking really closely especially at teaching materials used for elementary school children and looked into the representation of reality there,” Sulzer-Reichel said in an email interview. “Over time, she came to the conclusion that widening her scope and drawing comparisons to statistical data on education was going to form a more rounded independent research project.”

Sulzer-Reichel said Landon had adapted her research questions when faced with realities different from her expectations in Morocco, a skill that will prepare her well for her work in Tajikistan. 

“Emily is bright, very dedicated, and has a great ability to stay on course over a long time,” Sulzer-Reichel said. 

As Landon looks forward to her time abroad, she said it was important for Fulbright applicants to not be close-minded about the options available. 

“Don’t be afraid to look for a position outside your comfort zone,” Landon said.

Contact contributor Jeanette Lam at jeanette.lam@richmond.edu.