April 18, 2018 | By Jake Weber
"I was terrified to open the email at first," says Elaina Braunschweig, '18. "Then I screamed my head off for about five minutes and scared my roommates."
With this news, Braunschweig became the latest Albion student to be awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. She will spend nine months teaching English in Germany, in the state of Brandenburg, which includes Berlin, during the 2018-19 academic year.
Braunschweig began studying German in high school, sparked in part by interest in her family's immigrant history and the language they had lost. Although she entered Albion as a German major—and received encouragement from Albion German professor Perry Myers—"I didn’t seriously consider applying for the Fulbright, because I wasn't in education and teaching did not spark my interest," Braunschweig says.
That all changed after a semester in Berlin, working as a teaching assistant for Albion's beginning German students, and writing a thesis about German immigration. "I knew that I had to find some way to return to Germany, and I knew that I wanted to apply my research and teaching interest. The Fulbright Award was a perfect way to do that."
The award requires a community-based component, which will simultaneously provide Braunschweig with an on-the-ground application of her Honors thesis on the education and professional outcomes of the Turkish minority in Germany over the past 60 years. (She is presenting her research at Albion College's 2018 Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium.)
Applying her knowledge to more recent refugees, "I would be interested in applying my economics degree to assist with their financial transition or working with the city in some way to implement more affordable integrated housing initiatives," says Braunschweig. "What interests me most is hearing policymakers' views on integration and seeing if they are considering effective integration policies when they find jobs and provide amenities, such as education and housing.
Braunschweig also is taking stock of her current moment and what lies ahead. "Dr. Myers encouraged me to study abroad, find a research topic that I am passionate about, write a thesis, become the German 101 teaching assistant, and apply to Fulbright. He made my potential clear to me," she explains. "I knew that I could achieve all of them, but that I had to work for them; and I did, which clearly paid off. At a large school, students don't have someone looking out for them in that way, and I truly cannot thank Dr. Myers enough for challenging me to do everything that I've done."
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States. It provides opportunities and support for educators and researchers to work abroad with the goal of enhancing mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of the host countries. Since 1948, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program has sponsored the work of some 100,000 students. Albion College alumni have received a total of 15 Fulbright awards since 2004; of those awards, 13 have been for teaching assistantships in Europe, Africa and Mexico, and two encompassed grants for research in Tanzania and Brazil.