MSW student Virginia Lewis is the recipient of a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship by UNC’s Center for European Studies for the 2014–15 academic year.
Lewis began her studies of Portuguese when she went to Portugal for 12 weeks in the summer of 2013, with UNC’s Global Education and Developmental Studies program that was based at the University of Porto. In addition to her social work courses, she will study European Portuguese language and literature at UNC, to continue to advance her proficiency in verbal and written Portuguese.
Through the area studies component of the FLAS fellowship, she will complete courses on Portuguese culture within Pan-European globalism and transnationalism to increase her knowledge of the internal and global forces forging Portugal’s current economic and social crises.
Lewis plans to continue research she began in Portugal on the effects of austerity measures on the populations most vulnerable to cuts in social services within Portugal. She found in Portugal not only high rates of poverty and depression, but also an innovative social work methodology of cultural inclusion in the face of crushing economic hardship. Fluent in Spanish, Lewis will develop her Portuguese skills to collaborate with policymakers and researchers considering the comparative effects of austerity measures on Spanish and Portuguese speaking populations.