Natalie Jones '14, who graduated from Loyola with degrees in Spanish and Theater Arts, was recently selected for a 2017-18 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to teach in Argentina, a country where she also studied abroad as a student at Loyola.
Jones, who has taught at the International School of Louisiana since graduation, wrote her thesis at Loyola on the correlation of accents on identity. For her Fulbright, she will be teaching English to Argentines training to be English teachers as well as conducting an accent archiving project, creating a database of accents from various regions of the country that researchers can use.
Jones said her interest in Argentinian accents has been influenced by her involvement in theatre. "It you think about it, [accents] are like wearing a hat or wearing a mask. It's a voice coming out of your mouth. It changes the way you are perceived."
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually-designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. During the experience, Fulbrighters meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, giving recipients an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think.
Jones still keeps in touch with her host family from Argentina from her time studying abroad and plans to reconnect during her upcoming travels.
"The world's a lot smaller than we think," said Jones, who made a promise to herself that one day she would travel to all of the Spanish-speaking countries of the world. She's well on her way to reaching that goal as she criss-crosses the Western hemisphere working on social justice projects.
In 2014, she traveled to Guatemala, where she worked with Dr. Nathan Henne of Loyola's Department of Languages and Cultures on a project that commemorates and continues the work of famed Guatemalan author and activist Luis de Lion.
In 2015, she traveled to Cuba, where she taught English.
And last summer, she traveled to Colombia with a friend.
Jones' former professors are excited to hear that their star student continues to excel and make the world a better place.
"Natalie represents the best an artistic, liberal arts, and Jesuit education has to offer: an expansive, compassionate, and engaged world view applied to her life as an artist, social justice warrior, and a citizen," said Laura Hope, chairwoman of Loyola's Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.
Jones will star in the role of "Heavenly" in Southern Repertory Theatre's production of "Sweet Bird of Youth," which premieres March 22 on Loyola's campus. The production is a part of this year's Tennessee Williams Festival. When Jones was a student at Loyola she starred in productions of Godspell, which won a Big Easy Award, Blithe Spirit, and Patient A, which was a social justice play about the first-known case of clinical transmission of HIV.
While a student at Loyola, Jones was also a very active participant in service learning projects, Hope said. Jones worked with Project Lazarus, where Loyola students offer science, arts and life skills-based classes to residents who are living with HIV/AIDS.
"When I visited Project Lazarus last semester, they began raving about Natalie the moment they found out I was from Loyola's theatre department," said Hope. "As an educator, it is always thrilling to hear that your student is not just a good artist and scholar, but a good person who cares about those less fortunate, and takes it upon herself to help."