Scholarship lands students opportunity to teach abroad

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

Ioana Lobontiu and Megan Green will be able to teach English as newly minted Fulbright scholars. Both will be working as English teaching assistants abroad.

The Fulbright student program offers opportunities in 140 countries to do research, study and teach for recent graduates and graduate students.

According to the Fulbright’s official website, Sen. J. William Fulbright created a bill in the United States of Congress that funded students who were studying education, culture and science in 1945. President Harry S. Truman then signed the bill into law creating the Fulbright program for an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S government.

They applied for the scholarship in September 2017 and learned that they received the scholarship in March 2018. Green will be an English teaching assistant in Germany while Lobontiu will be teaching in Austria.

For Lobontiu and Green, the program was fitting for their areas of studies. Both students went to West High School and were always interested in language.

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Green is double majoring in economics and German and minoring in math.

“In seventh grade, everybody had to choose a language to study. You had two options, German and Spanish. I was curious about German, so I decided to go into that language,” Green said. “I like the way that the words were like puzzle pieces and you have to fit them together, express ideas and everything. It felt natural in studying it.”

Lobontiu was born in Romania and followed her father, professor of mechanical engineering, all throughout the U.S. until settling in Alaska. Already in a bilingual family, the Fulbright program is a major stepping stone for building her career after college, she said. Lobontiu is currently majoring in French and German and studying international studies.

“International studies was always something that interested me. Then, I started taking languages in middle school and high school, and it kind of just snowballed from there,” Lobontiu said.

Green is a German tutor on campus and studied abroad in Germany. Lobontiu volunteered at Rilke Schule, a German immersion school in Anchorage and has also been the president of the German club for the last two years.

With determination to tailor their academic careers for the Fulbright scholarship and their future careers, they met Natasa Masanovic-Courtney, German coordinator and department chair for the languages department, fairly early in their academics.

“It was an intensive editing process. We’d talk about how well the piece was working and where things that needed to get put in,” Green said. “There’s so much you want to say, but the pieces are limited to one page. You really have to be efficient in how you write. It wasn’t any kind of writing I’ve done before.”

The Fulbright scholarship has helped them open their opportunities to learning about different cultures and expanding their skills in the German language.

“I’m really looking forward to the multicultural aspect that’s even more present in a different country in that I would feel like I’m the outsider coming in,” Lobontiu said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to learn about another culture because Germany and Austria are very multicultural societies. I think that interchange is something I’m looking forward to the most.”

The 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Student competition is open for submissions. Applications are due Oct. 9, 2018.

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