Congratulations to Fulbright ETA to Germany, Meredith Wolf! Here are some of her thoughts on the Fulbright program and its application process:
What do you hope to get out of the opportunity that Fulbright affords you?
First, I hope to be a great resource for my English language students with which I will be working. Learning a foreign language can be a daunting task, after all! I also hope to bring something new to the table via my work. This could mean sharing an aspect of American culture with which the students are not so familiar, or introducing a new way of thinking about the English language and its uses. The student-instructor relationship is highly reciprocal in my experience– especially in a multilingual, multicultural context. The things I hope to give are also the things I hope to take away from my experience thanks to the opportunity the Fulbright affords me.
What motivated you to apply for a Fulbright?
The impending completion of my undergraduate studies put me at a crossroads. I knew that I would like to attend graduate school, yet I felt (and still feel) as though even more experience would set me on a more focused, deliberate path. I was really inspired by my own German professor and the fun and open learning atmosphere she fostered. Soon after, it dawned on me that I could pursue teaching my own native language as a foreign language and bring all of my experience and interests to the table. When I heard about the Fulbright Grant a year ago, specifically the ETA, I knew that I wanted to pursue it.
How did you choose your country?
When I started learning the German language, I could not (and still can’t) get enough of it! Personally, the German language is something that brings me a lot of joy. Second, I had already been to Germany once for vacation, and I went again last summer with the W&M Potsdam Program. Being familiar with the German language and the country helped me to know that applying to Germany was the right choice for me.
How do you plan to engage with the community while abroad?
It is difficult to say at this point how I will best be able to engage with the community when I am abroad, because I haven’t received a specific city-placement yet. What I can do will depend heavily on the dynamic of the community of which I will be a part. I have a lot of ideas, though. So I’m ready for just about anything! Specifically, I have a lot of interest in theatre, music, public speaking, and the performing arts. It is my hope to be involved in some capacity with these areas– whether that means integrating myself into existing groups, or starting my own! I have been really inspired by W&M’s language houses, so it would be great to arrange a setting such as that for English learners in my community and be their resource for English learning and cultural exchange by planning various meet-ups and activities.
What did you realize about yourself throughout this process?
Perhaps, the best thing I realized throughout this process about myself, is that I have more perseverance and patience than I acknowledged beforehand. I started thinking about, and preparing this application six months leading up to the campus submission deadline, and it was another six months before I received my grant nomination. It was a tough application, and it took way more time, drafts, personal reflection, emotional investment, etc. than I imagined it could. I’m really proud of the application I prepared, and I really must thank Lisa Grimes and the PSAs in the Charles Center for introducing to the grant, guiding me, and supporting me throughout the process!
What are you most proud of in your application?
While I spent hours and hours writing and re-writing the personal statement and grant purpose, and refining the application as a whole, I think what I am most proud of in my application is the version of myself who is speaking through it. It’s not enough to write a good application, you have to be all of those good things to ensure your voice comes through to whomever reads it. So, I suppose I am most proud of the “me” that made my application special.
If you could do it all again, what would you change about the process?
If I had to do anything differently about my process, I would likely have started drafting my full personal and grant statements sooner so I could have started my weekly meetings with the PSAs even sooner. Even then, I think the PSAs who helped would say I was in there enough!
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to future Fulbright applicants?
Future applicants: Make sure you want this grant, and are willing to work for it soon after you first hear about it. Then, if you do really want it, make it your priority. Start thinking about it every day. If you don’t have all the experiences to make you a great applicant before you start applying, then start getting that experience ASAP. If you already have a lot of experiences that would make you a great applicant, keep pursuing those experiences! Meditate on your decision to pursue this grant often. Draft your statements at least two months before the campus deadlines. Visit the PSA office– a lot! Don’t be discouraged, and get ready to practice patience! We are truly lucky to have great resources and mentors on campus such as Lisa Grimes, the PSA office, and your professors. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for advice and support! Best of luck!