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Rebecca Jaeger received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain, where she served at IE University in Madrid.
Three alumni from the University of Delaware's College of Arts and Sciences, who recently completed their Fulbright Year abroad,
shared their experiences with staff of UD's Institute for Global
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education,
is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the
United States and other countries. Awards are granted to students to
support nine to 12 months of research, graduate study or an English
teaching assistantship in one of more than 150 countries.
Rebecca Jaeger, who earned her Honors BA in Biology, Spanish and
History in May of 2016, landed in Spain, where she taught as a Fulbright
English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at IE University
in Madrid. There, she served as a tutor in the university’s writing
center and taught a course on conversational English for faculty and
Jaeger’s greatest satisfaction was in seeing her Spanish students learn and grow over the course of the year.
“One student really wanted me to keep reading and helping her with
her essays,” Jaeger said. “I think I must have looked at each of them
three times. Being able to see her English writing skills in the
beginning of our time together compared to the end was a really proud
moment for me.”
This was Jaeger’s second extended experience in Spain; in Fall 2013
she participated in UD’s longstanding semester program in Granada.
In Senegal, Shane Sanders, a 2016 graduate of UD’s MA program in
Foreign Language Pedagogy, also served as a Fulbright ETA. Based in
Dakar, Sanders assisted the U.S. Embassy’s Regional English Language
Office, offered professional development for local teachers and
volunteered in screening Senegalese applications for the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
“I had people come up to me often and say that they never realized so
much went into teaching,” she said. “I think the general idea around
the world is that if you know something, you can teach it. As a teacher
myself, one of my goals was to create awareness that teaching is its own
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Shane Sanders (standing, third from left), a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Senegal, traveled with one of
her classes to Gorée Island, a small island off the coast of Dakar.
William Lescas, who earned an Honors BA in International Relations in
2016, completed his first of two years in a master’s program in
political science at Denmark’s Aarhus University.
According to Lescas, being a Fulbrighter offered access to key
networks abroad that he hopes to carry with him through his career.
“One conference I attended was open to Fulbright grantees and Erasmus
alumni,” he said. “I met people who worked for the United Nations and
the European Union who had been on exchange to the United States and we
talked about migration, a really pressing challenge. It was an
incredible experience to be in a room where everyone brought a unique
but really important outlook on the issue.”
The Fulbright year was not Lescas’ only extended experience in
Denmark, having studied in Copenhagen for a semester during his
undergraduate years at UD.
Throughout their Fulbright year, Jaeger, Lescas and Sanders also made
lasting connections with their local communities. According to Sanders,
living with a host family allowed her to immerse herself in Senegalese
culture from the moment she arrived.
“I realized that just getting to know my host family on a personal
level, their day-to-day lives and their culture is something that I
couldn’t have done unless I lived with them,” she said.
For Lescas, it was finding the comforts of home that helped him meet new people and acclimate to a new life abroad.
“Life is different, but at the same time, every morning I wake up,
drink coffee, eat breakfast and talk to people,” he said. “No matter
where you come from, you always kind of talk about the same things.
There are these very unique parts of the experience, but there are also a
lot of similarities as well.”
William Lescas (right), with
Aarhus University Profs. Derek Beach and Philip Ulrich, participates in a panel discussion focused on the U.S. elections during his time as a
Fulbright student in Denmark.
Lescas and Jaeger are currently enrolled in graduate studies. An
aspiring policy analyst, Lescas hopes to pursue a doctorate after
completing his master’s program. Jaeger, who deferred admission to law
school upon receipt of her Fulbright award, is applying the benefits of
her Fulbright year to her studies at William & Mary
“Being able to live in a different place for a year opens
your mind to people from many walks of life,” she said. “Going to law
school with such an open mind will allow me to meet people and to look
at things from many different angles.”
Jaeger also plans to put her
language fluency to use, as she hopes to work with Spanish-speaking
Sanders has also returned to the United States, where she hopes to continue her career in international education.
“I think I could really do a lot of good and give back to the U.S.,
who sent me on my Fulbright, by helping American students go abroad,”
she said. “Many of the challenges faced by the U.S. will require a
globally-minded citizenry to solve them. If I can get one student to
study abroad who might not have otherwise, I will feel like I’ve given
back to my country.”
For those interested in applying for a Fulbright award, UD’s most
recent Fulbright Society Members have one shared piece of advice: Get
“My experience at Delaware wholeheartedly prepared me for my
experience in Madrid in so many ways,” Jaeger said. “I was involved in
many different activities and worked with many different kinds of
people, from my peers to administrators and faculty. That experience
allowed me to be an effective collaborator and to connect with people
from all over the world.”
UD students and alumni who plan to apply for a Fulbright award are encouraged to visit the Institute for Global Studies website, follow along on Instagram and Twitter for key updates, and contact Katharine Kerrane for advisement.
The Institute for Global Studies
(IGS) was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of
teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS
provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that
contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens
of the world.
Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program,
IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students,
administers State Department-sponsored programs such as the UD Fulbright Initiative, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Institute and the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership (SUSI-WL) program, and sponsors globally-focused events throughout the year.
IGS collaborates with campus partners, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies. In addition, IGS partners with Enrollment Management to coordinate the UD World Scholars Program.
Article by Nikki Laws