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Phillis Brown '15 M'18 talks about her experiences coming to USI from South Africa and how her education at USI and the Romain College of Business set the foundation for a journey that has led her through numerous internships and experiences globally. She currently teaches English in Japan, and considers herself an ambassador who fosters understanding between American and Japanese cultures.

When I was looking for colleges in the United States, I found USI because Evansville was the only city I really knew. I thought it looked like a nice campus, so I decided to apply and attend. It was a difficult move at first. I graduated high school in South Africa and had never lived in the U.S. before, so all of my first American experiences were at USI. It was challenging, but once I started getting involved on campus that changed. I became a student worker for the Center for International Programs and started to get involved with the International Club. I was a member of the International Club during all four years and president in 2014. I was able to meet people from all over the world, and help them transition to life at USI. This club really enabled us to promote understanding and diversity on campus.

In the summer of 2014 I joined Dr. Daria Sevastianova's summer class, Economics of Globalization, in Osnabrück, Germany. That's where I learned about the broad-ranging economic effects and challenges of globalization, and I got to learn about German and European perspectives for the first time.

I participated in a five-month internship in the spring of 2015 with the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. I worked with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and through this internship I got to experience U.S. foreign policy firsthand and learned that I wanted to pursue this field of international education, cultural exchanges and diplomacy further.

As an American Filipino growing up throughout nine different countries, I have learned to see the world from various perspectives and have gained an appreciation for cultural differences. I have no doubt that this multicultural upbringing has influenced my choices of study and work.  

After graduating in 2015 with a bachelor's in economics, I decided to continue my studies at USI by pursuing a master's degree in Second Language Acquisition, Policy and Culture and was the graduate assistant for International Admissions. I earned my Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification and Cultural Awareness Training certification and decided to apply for the Global Engagement Internship Program. I volunteered in Dharamsala, India, in the summer of 2017 teaching children 2-12 years of age in a one-room daycare center. I taught a wide range of ages and language abilities, so I had to think on my feet and create engaging lessons with minimal resources. This was challenging, but gave me firsthand experience teaching and an insight into the challenges regarding education in this region.

I am currently living in Kyoto Prefecture in Japan and working as a junior high/high school English teacher in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program. I am enjoying my time here as I help foster a positive learning environment for English language learners. I get to represent the United States as somewhat of a cultural ambassador to Japan, and ultimately am fostering understanding between the two cultures.

I think that USI and the Romain College of Business gave me a great foundation. I was drawn to economics because it was really easy to see how the theory had real-life applications. Economics is essentially about the world around us. It’s about how we behave, and it is present in almost every aspect of our daily lives. It’s current, it’s always changing, and I have always found it interesting and challenging. Also, the economics faculty at USI is truly unique. They are caring, knowledgeable in their fields, and were always available to help.

USI was my first home in the United States, and it has definitely equipped me with the skills and understanding needed for an increasingly global and constantly changing world.