June 15, 2012
WOOSTER, Ohio — Three graduates from The College of Wooster’s Class of 2012 have been awarded distinguished Fulbright Teaching Assistantships. Arielle Neu, Kyle Schutz, and Madeline Fauser will spend the coming year teaching English overseas. Neu, a double major in international relations and Russian studies, will travel to Russia to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA); Schutz, a German studies major with a minor in environmental studies, will go to Austria as an ETA; and Fauser, a sociology major with a minor in German studies, will head for Germany, also as an ETA.
The lengthy, in-depth application process includes a personal statement and an essay explaining how the student would use and benefit from the grant, as well as the reason for wanting to teach English in another country. It is followed by an on-campus interview, a series of recommendations, and a phone interview in the native language of that country.
“I think I was chosen because of my proficiency in the Russian language and (my) academic and practical experience with Russian culture,” said Neu, a resident of Ferndale, Mich. “I studied Russian for two years at Wooster and did an intensive fourth-year summer program in 2010 before studying abroad in St. Petersburg in the fall 2010.” While in St. Petersburg, she also had practical experience teaching English, which served as a good preparation for the Fulbright experience. “Having seen St. Petersburg and Moscow, I wanted the chance to broaden my knowledge of the country, to go somewhere new and unique, and see a whole new side of Russia,” she said.
Neu will be teaching at Buryat State Agricultural Academy in Ulan-Ude city in eastern Siberia near the border of Mongolia. Because she also received a Critical Language Enhancement Award, she will continue to study the Russian language while she is teaching. “I'm looking forward to the local nature, which I hear is beautiful, and to experiencing a Siberian winter… Most of all, I'd say my goal is to increase my comfort and confidence communicating in Russian in real-life situations.”
Schutz first became aware of and interested in the Fulbright program during his first year at Wooster when he met the Fulbright teaching assistant for his German class. By the time he was a senior, Schutz had made the decision that Fulbright was one option he would definitely be willing to pursue after graduation. Feeling that he would be comfortable living and working in either Germany or Austria — both of which he had visited before — he chose to apply to both to increase his chances of acceptance.
“It seemed like a really great and stable experience, one that would give me another year to sort out my next step,” said Schutz, a resident of Mesa, Ariz. “I guess it seemed like a really good safety blanket for my transition into the real world.”
In upper Austria, Schutz will be working at two schools in Steyr, a city about the size of Wooster. In his spare time, he plans to take classes in global marketing at the local university.
“Ultimately I was very happy with the way things worked out,” he said. “Although I would have been very happy in Germany, I think Austria is a better match to my personality. I will be very close to the Alps for skiing and hiking, as well as to some of my family that lives in southern Germany. I think this will be a great opportunity to test out living and working abroad, which is something I would like to do for the next 10 or so years.”
Fauser said that she hadn’t planned to apply for a Fulbright, but “was sitting in Old Main one day and thought ‘why not?’ about three weeks before the Wooster deadline.” Despite her humble belief that other applicants must have been more qualified, Fauser is exhilarated to have been chosen. “I think my enthusiasm for my previous experiences in Germany coupled with my very specific interest in the Turkish minority may have been an influence,” said Fauser, a resident of San Antonio, Texas.
Although she can’t be certain why she was selected, she is certain about why she chose Germany, “I loved studying abroad there when I went in the spring of 2011 and wanted to return in some capacity,” she said. “When I leave in September, I will be a teaching assistant in an English class. I am part of Fulbright's diversity program so the school in which I have been placed has a larger immigrant population.”
As far as what she hopes to gain from her experience, Fauser said, “I would definitely like to become more conversational in German. I can write and read, but speaking is always tough. Additionally, I am really interested in seeing how language can be used in an inclusive way. In other words, as a teaching assistant, I would really like to show just how democratizing and empowering language can be.”
The Fulbright Program is the premiere international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Established in 1946, it is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries.” During the past 63 years, the program has provided almost 300,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The selection of Neu, Schutz, and Fauser brings Wooster’s total number of Fulbright recipients since 2000 to 16.
- Story by Libby Fackler '13
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