CHICAGO (May 4, 2016) — North Park University continued its record of Fulbright success this spring, when the U.S. Fulbright Program awarded overseas teaching opportunities to two University students and one alumna.
Seniors Katie Bast and Elizabeth Wallace and 2015 graduate Bethany Joseph were awarded English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) in Macedonia, Peru, and Mexico, respectively. Combined with previous awards, 19 North Park students and three faculty members in the past eight years have earned Fulbright grants.
A double-major in English literature and secondary education, Bast will serve as an ETA for a nine-month placement in Macedonia this September. Although the specifics of her grant haven’t yet been announced, Bast expects to be teaching English reading, writing, and vocabulary in a secondary school or university setting while also engaging in educational outreach programs.
“North Park has given me opportunities to step into leadership positions, and I have gained the skills to think critically due to my experiences,” Bast says. “Translating this into the classroom has benefitted my teaching greatly. I’ve learned how to teach English in different contexts because of the varying schools I have taught in through my placements with the School of Education.”
A native of Holland, Mich., Bast participated in a wide variety of both academic and non-academic activities during her time at North Park. She served as a writing advisor for three years, took trips with Global Partnerships and the Sankofa Experience, and played Ultimate Frisbee. “These groups have all helped me develop and grow, and I’ve loved all the relationships that have flourished due to all of these different experiences,” Bast says.
“Katie is a dedicated, intellectually curious, and broadly accomplished student who is committed to sharing her love for language and literature,” says Professor of English Dr. Nancy Arnesen. “She is an organizer, a doer, a truly unflappable, unstoppable force for the better.” At last month’s University Honors Convocation, Bast was recognized as the English department’s outstanding senior.
When Bast completes her program, she plans to return to Chicago to teach English in a middle or high school, either in Chicago Public Schools or in the suburbs. “I am excited to see how I grow as a teacher through the Fulbright experience and to be able to apply what I learn in the classroom upon my return,” she says.
‘A wide range of experiences and adventures’
Wallace will graduate this month with a bachelor of arts in Spanish, a K–12 teaching license, and an ESL/bilingual teaching endorsement. In March 2017, she will travel to Peru to serve as an ETA through next December. She will most likely be teaching at a university.
Wallace’s experience studying abroad was an important part of her time at North Park. “Studying in Cuenca, Ecuador, had such a positive impact on me, and helped me develop deep friendships that I may not have otherwise,” she says. “It prepared me through the wide range of multicultural experiences and adventures that we had.”
Wallace, of Oak Lawn, Ill., also feels prepared for her Fulbright position because of her experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. “North Park has prepared me thoroughly through my classes, but also my clinical experiences,” she says. “During student teaching, I worked with students in the classroom and after school, helping direct a play. It is by these real-life experiences—that were challenging and fun—that I feel prepared to teach in Peru.”
Dr. Linda Parkyn, professor of Spanish and Fulbright program associate, agrees. “Elizabeth just finished student teaching with an excellent record of captivating classroom assignments and many kudos from her students,” she says. “After study abroad last year in Ecuador, I am sure Peruvian students will be impressed as well!”
After her time in Peru, Wallace plans to return to the United States and teach Spanish. She looks forward to exploring teaching all grades, and hopes to eventually teach in a bilingual school.
A ‘significantly expanded worldview’
Joseph, who majored in both Spanish and communication studies, will begin her 10-month ETA placement in Mexico this August. Like Wallace, Joseph’s experience studying abroad helped her determine her plans following graduation.
“I participated in the study abroad program during my junior year, spending a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” says Joseph. “It filled me with enthusiasm for Latin America, for its culture, warmth, and color. It reminded me of the beauty of intercultural friendships.” She finds that North Park “significantly expanded my worldview. I am a more open person because of the classes I took as an undergrad.”
While Joseph, of Grand Rapids, Mich., hasn’t yet received the details of the age group she will be teaching, she has a sense of what some of her work will involve. “Each Fulbright applicant is required to describe the unique teaching style that they would apply to the job, and to propose a side project that will be conducted in addition to the teaching,” she says. “Long story short, I will be doing a lot of songwriting and cartooning in Mexico.”
Parkyn attests to Joseph’s creativity. “Bethany is an inventive student who will excel in the Mexican classroom,” she says. “Her Spanish skills and her tutoring experience at North Park will help her to teach English with a fluency that is hard to match. She will thrive.”
Eventually, Joseph expects to work in a nonprofit environment, whether in Latin America or in the United States. “I am interested in community engagement and in working with people,” she says. “I anticipate being part of an organization that provides services to lower-income families.”
The Fulbright program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.