Current Samford University senior Chase Trautwein and 2012 alumna Samantha McFarland have been chosen to participate in the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) Program. Both were accepted for placement in Germany in the 2013-14 academic year.The Fulbright ETA program sends recent college graduates and young professionals into schools abroad to improve the foreign students’ English language skills and understanding of the U.S. The ETAs improve their own foreign language skills and understanding of their host country in turn.
Trautwein, a Samford history major with a minor in German, will be teaching in a German middle school or high school starting this fall. He doesn’t yet know where he will be placed, but thinks it will most likely be in the southern or central part of the country.
“The past few days have felt like being in a dream,” Trautwein said of the honor. “I can't wrap my head around the fact that I will be spending a full academic year in Germany, nor can I comprehend the opportunities that will come from this experience.”
Trautwein said world languages and cultures professors Angela Ferguson and Mike Ledgerwood, history professor Jonathan Bass and classics professor and Samford Fulbright Program Advisor Shannon Flynt were instrumental in his preparation and application for the program. He also praised the support of Gerhard Graf of Birmingham’s FDSK German Culture Club and the Alabama Germany Partnership.
McFarland graduated from Samford in December 2012 with double majors in international relations and German. She hopes to be placed somewhere near Bamberg, where she studied as part of a Samford program in summer 2012.
“I would like to live in Germany, and hope to attend graduate school there before looking for a job,” McFarland said. “The Fulbright is an excellent way for me to network in Germany.”
McFarland said she was most grateful for the help of professors Flynt and Ferguson, Fred Shepherd (political science,) Jim Brown (history,) James Strange (religion) and Carlo Chiarenza. Chiarenza, a recent political science visiting professor, is the former executive director of the Fulbright program in Italy.
Flynt, a Fulbright Fellow in Austria 1999-2000, said the program is highly competitive. “For many of the European countries, you have hundreds of applicants for maybe two dozen spots,” she said. Flynt also noted that the other applicants for those spots range in experience from new graduates to advanced Ph.D. students from Harvard, Princeton and every other university fielding Fulbright candidates.
“It takes research, real preparation and half a year—sometimes longer than that—to craft an application that we really feel is going to be successful,” Flynt said. She and the members of Samford’s Fulbright Campus Committee, University Professor Chris Metress and world languages and cultures professor Kelly Jensen, work with the students to develop their applications.
Last year, Samford University Fellows student and English major Adam Quinn was chosen to participate in the Fulbright Commission Summer Institute at Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland. History alumnus Andrew Westover served as a Fulbright ETA in South Africa in 2011-2012. In 2007, journalism and mass communication alumna Anna Swindle was chosen for the Fulbright ETA program in Malaysia.
Many Samford faculty also have participated in Fulbright programs as students and scholars, including Flynt, associate dean of Howard College of Arts and Sciences Rosemary Fisk (Hong Kong and Myanmar,) world languages and cultures professors Angela Ferguson (Germany) and Mary McCullough (Egypt and Tunisia,) physics professor Perry Tompkins (Ecuador,) music professor Brian Viliunas (Norway,) (and Cumberland School of Law professors Bob Greene (Ukraine) and Paul Kuruk (Germany) and Deborah Young (China.) School of the Arts dean Joseph Hopkins was recently chosen to serve as a Fulbright Senior Specialist. Former Samford president Thomas E. Corts served on the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board 2005-2007.