Two Seniors Receive Fulbright Grants to Teach English in Poland and Taiwan

May 08, 2019

Andrea Baumgartel ’19 and Katherine McDonald ’19 have accepted Fulbright U.S. Student Grants for the 2019–20 grant year that will enable them to work as assistant English teachers overseas. Baumgartel, who will teach in Poland, and McDonald, who will teach in Taiwan, were selected on the basis of their academic achievement and leadership potential, with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

For more than 70 years, Fulbright grants have provided future American leaders with an unparalleled opportunity to study, conduct research, and teach abroad with the goal of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

“Andrea and Katie are well-poised to take their academic, work, and co-curricular experiences and professional skills with them to serve as assistant English teachers and to facilitate cultural exchanges,” says Ann Landstrom, assistant dean and director of global fellowships and awards in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service. “The College has prepared them to be successful ambassadors through our globally informed curriculum and global learning opportunities that celebrate diverse perspectives and promote global understanding.”

Andrea Baumgartel

Andrea Baumgartel

Baumgartel, an English and biology double major from Peoria, Illinois, was selected for an English teaching assistantship in Poland. She will teach English and serve as an adviser to undergraduate and graduate students of science at the university level. In addition, she plans to take courses in Polish language and history; participate in a community-based creative writing, poetry, or arts group; and join a running club.

The Fulbright grant will make it possible for Baumgartel to live abroad for the first time. “I’m excited about the opportunities, challenges, and connections that come along with engaging in an entirely new community,” she says. “I look forward to learning about its own networks of people, histories, politics, and ways of knowing the world.”

Baumgartel has been a library research tutor, biology tutor, Liberal Arts in Prison program teacher, and a member of the English Student Educational Policy Committee. She also served as a writer and former co-editor-in-chief of B&S, a satirical student newspaper, and a participant in the Stand Up Comedy Club. Her summer activities include conducting biology research and a creative writing Mentored Advanced Project, as well as performing archival work at Northwestern University’s Digital Humanities Library.

Katherine ‘Katie’ McDonald

Katherine McDonald

McDonald, of Stillwater, Oklahoma, is a biological chemistry major selected for an English teaching assistantship in Taiwan, where she will teach English and U.S. culture to elementary and junior high students. Her placement will be with a local English teacher in Yilan County in northern Taiwan.

In addition to teaching, McDonald will consult with other teachers on American cultural issues and will edit and write educational materials for the teaching of English. She also will contribute to her Taiwanese community through service projects, which include giving talks about college in the United States, offering an American cooking class at the school, hosting an English-speaking chat in the community, and conducting science demonstrations to encourage students to develop an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

McDonald’s civic engagement in Taiwan will be strengthened by her intermediate-level proficiency in Mandarin Chinese. “My decision to study Chinese reflects my passion for understanding and connecting with others,” she said. “It is also a decision that has guided me back to Taiwan to continue learning about Taiwanese culture and the connections we make as people.”

In her third year at the College, McDonald studied abroad for the fall semester in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Upon returning to campus, she was a resident of Chinese House, which provides off-campus housing for Chinese language students and native speakers.

McDonald serves as a mentor within the Science Learning Center and has worked closely with a faculty member on a biology Mentored Advanced Project. She has also held research internships at Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

Henry Bolster ’18, an English major from Janesville, Wisconsin, also received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship grant for Taiwan but is unable to accept the position.

Two Grinnellians Selected As Alternates

Two seniors have been named alternates in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program process for 2019–20, and could receive Fulbright grants if funding becomes available:

  • Cecilia Bergman ’19, of Silver Spring, Maryland, is an alternate for an English teaching assistantship in Colombia. She is a Spanish major with a concentration in global development studies; and
  • Vivian Cheslack ’19, of Delray Beach, Florida, is an alternate for an English teaching assistantship in South Africa. She is a chemistry major with a concentration in linguistics.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries worldwide and annually awards over 2,100 grants for U.S. students to study overseas.

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