by Tony Moore
The weather warms up, flowers pop and students sweat it out while eagerly awaiting news about Fulbright awards. The wait is over this year, though, as four seniors—Sharaldine Francisco, Elizabeth Hardison, Ezra Sassaman and Rachel Schilling—recently found out that they're the latest Dickinsonians to land prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA).
“One day, my friend Rachel asked me, ‘Did you get it?’ and she told me that she had received the Fulbright,” says Ezra Sassaman (German), who will be heading to the German state of Hesse, along with Schilling, on his Fulbright. “I quickly checked my email and saw ‘Congratulations!’ Rachel and I hugged and jumped around in excitement in the bottom of the HUB.”
Sassaman says he looks forward to being “an ambassador of American culture,” an experience he’s been preparing for since before he came to Dickinson.
“I’ve been interested in German language and culture since my high school experience of visiting the country and participating in two student exchanges,” says Sassaman, who spent the 2014 academic year overseas as part of the Dickinson in Bremen program. “Even a few weeks later, I still haven’t fully comprehended that I am going back to Germany next year!”
Beyond the German contingent, Elizabeth Hardison (history, English) received an ETA Fulbright to Indonesia, and Sharaldine Francisco (history, Latin American, Latino & Caribbean studies) will be heading off to Madrid on her ETA, where she’ll teach English in a secondary school for a year. She’ll also play a leading role in preparing students for the Global Classrooms Model United Nations (MUN) Program.
"As the daughter of Dominican parents and the great-granddaughter of Spanish Civil War refugees, I identify most with my Dominican and American heritage, and not enough with my Spanish heritage," says Francisco, who previously studied in Mendoza, Argentina, as part of Dickinson’s South America program. "Pursuing an ETA in Spain was the perfect opportunity for me to build bridges between cultures, precisely those that make up my own identity, while interacting with my students and giving them an opportunity to not only learn about U.S. history and culture but to also learn about the diverse cultures that make up our country."
Last year, five Dickinsonians received Fulbright awards, and recipients usually find that the grueling application process makes the award all the more gratifying.
“When I got the email saying I got the Fulbright, I'm not going to lie, I teared up a little and immediately started calling my family and friends,” says Schilling (German, English), who also spent 2014 in Germany and has been studying the language for eight years. “I can't wait to help teach and learn about teaching my native language as a second language, to live in a new part of Germany and to see old friends and make new connections in a new place.”
Sassaman and Schilling continue Dickinson’s Germany Fulbright success, bringing the college’s seven-year total to 13 students heading to Germany on the award. And as recipients do each year, Sassaman looks back on the process and the support he had along the way with gratitude.
“I cannot thank the Dickinson community enough!” he says. “Teachers, fellow students and Dickinson's [Norman M. Eberly Multilingual] Writing Center all provided valuable feedback for this application, and I am extremely grateful to them for the honor of receiving this scholarship.”
Associate Professor of History Jeremy Ball will be stepping down as a Fulbright advisor, and Donna Bickford, director of the Women’s and Gender Resource Center, and Assistant Professor of Russian Alyssa DeBlasio will join Associate Professor of German Sarah McGaughey in advising students applying for Fulbrights.
Published April 14, 2016