APPLETON, WIS. — Jane Hulburt credits her “awesome” high school foreign language teacher, Margaret Draheim, for exciting her about German. Spencer Neitzel’s interest in Germany was stoked after spending a month in Freiburg as an exchange student in 2005.
The two Lawrence University seniors will soon immerse themselves in all things German after being named Fulbright Scholars and awarded fellowships to spend nine months in Germany as English teaching assistants. Hulburt, who is from Appleton, and Neitzel, who lives in Northfield, Minn., are the third and fourth Lawrence students this spring to receive a Fulbright Fellowship. Since 2001, 13 Lawrence students have been named Fulbright Scholars.
Hulburt will be making her third trip to Germany when she begins her teaching apprenticeship in September. She spent the summer of 2003 in Bavaria as a participant in her high school’s German-American Partnership Program (GAPP) and then traveled to Freiburg as a Lawrence sophomore in 2007 on a study abroad program.
“I’ve always been interested in teaching and this is the ultimate teaching experience,” said Hulburt, who plans to leave a month early so she can spend time with her former host family from her GAPP experience. “I’ve also had a long-standing interest in German culture, so the opportunity to go to Germany and teach is going to be the best of both worlds for me.”
A German and piano major who performs with the Lawrence Jazz Singers and the Lawrence Concert Choir, Hulburt spent four years (2003-07) teaching a children’s choir at Appleton’s Memorial Presbyterian Church near the Lawrence campus. She hopes to incorporate her music background into her teaching lessons in Germany.
While “officially” an English teaching assistant, Neitzel said he plans to focus less on grammar and more on the application of the language and the study of American culture.
“I’m interested in the differences and similarities between American and German culture and this will be a great opportunity to explore those,” said Neitzel, a German and psychology major. “I’m hoping to learn more and think seriously about by own identity as an American since I will be representing the United States.”
Hulburt sees her upcoming Fulbright appointment as a “life” experience, not just a teaching experience.
“I’ll be working with people I normally wouldn’t have a chance to and be in an environment where English isn’t the first language,” said Hulburt. “This is going to take me out of my comfort zone, but in a good way, and help me grow as a person.”
The fact that the Fulbright program doesn’t require extensive teaching experience is what Neitzel initially found appealing and persuaded him to apply for the fellowship.
“You learn first hand the pedagogy in Germany is different than here in the states,” said Neitzel, who is hoping his teaching assignment will wind up at a school in Hamburg. “It’s an intense program, but it also does a great job of helping you find out what you want to do with your life.”
With an eye on working in the travel and tourism industry, Neitzel is hoping his Fulbright experience could help lead to a career directing tours in Germany, preferably on a bicycle.
Hulburt sees her upcoming Fulbright experience as a launching pad as well.
“I know my time at Lawrence is just about done and I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my life. That’s exciting. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I’m looking forward to finding out.”
Created by Congress in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s premier scholarship program. Since its founding, it has supported opportunities for nearly 300,000 American students, scholars and other professionals in more than 150 countries. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, CEOs, university presidents, professors and teachers. Thirty-seven Fulbright alumni have earned Nobel Prizes.