Right Place, Right Time
Fulbright awardee Catherine Ludwig ’10 seizes “exciting moment” in modern history
by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
May 31, 2012
Catherine Ludwig '10 (third from right) poses with students during a graduation celebration. Ludwig teaches English as a second language to adults through the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia. She will travel to Turkey to teach English at a university next year through the Fulbright ETA program.
Catherine Ludwig ’10 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach at a Turkish university. It’s a perfect fit for the former international-studies major, wedding her desire to make a difference through teaching with a scholarly passion she developed in her senior year at Dickinson.
The third Dickinsonian to be awarded a Fulbright this year, Ludwig discovered her talent for teaching during her junior year in Bologna, Italy, when she had an opportunity to tutor children part time. Last summer, she taught refugee and immigrant children in Roanoke, Va., through Commonwealth Catholic Charities, and she now teaches adults across Virginia’s Fairfax County through the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.
”My family jokes that I have the teaching gene,” says Ludwig, noting that her mother and both grandmothers are teachers as well. “I love it when a student has that breakthrough moment—especially when I’m working with immigrants and refugees, because you’re teaching them something that is completely necessary for their lives. It’s really rewarding.”
Teaching in Turkey promises to be doubly so. Ludwig became fascinated with Turkey while researching that country’s geopolitics—and its repeated efforts to become part of the European Union (EU)—as part of her Dickinson senior seminar. She’s delighted to continue her research, this time with an insider’s view.
“This is such an interesting, exciting moment [in Turkish history], so it’s a perfect time to go there,” she says, explaining that 10 years after amassing a budget deficit and high inflation rate, Turkey has entered an economic, cultural and educational renaissance and has become fiscally more viable than most of the countries already part of the EU. “A lot is happening there now.”
The Fulbright scholar plans to attend graduate school after completing her year in Turkey and ultimately hopes to continue working with refugees and immigrants, perhaps performing development work through the state department or a nonprofit organization.
As she awaits the details of her Fulbright assignment, Ludwig is thrilled by the adventures ahead. “I’ll be going somewhere where I am a blank slate, ready to absorb everything: the food, the culture, the people, the language, the history,” she says, adding that Turkey is a perfect launch spot for travel to Israel and Jordan, off the beaten path of the traditional European vacation. “This is an amazing opportunity.”