Alumni News

June 15, 2016 at 9:47 am

English Alum Heads to Bogotá on Fulbright Scholarship

Grace Pauley at the at El Cajas National Park outside Cuenca, Ecuador

Grace Pauley at the at El Cajas National Park outside Cuenca, Ecuador

Ohio University alum Grace Pauley ’16 has earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to support her upcoming 10-month research project in Bogotá, Colombia.

Pauley, who majored in English and minored in Spanish, finds that the combination of these majors has prepared her for an international research experience. She also has a Global Leadership certificate from the Career & Leadership Development Center.

She will serve as a teaching assistant at Escuela Colombiana de Carreras Industriales in Bogotá, where she will teach conversational English and culture. She notes that rather than focusing heavily on grammar and mechanics, she will teach students how to be conversant on topics that are currently discussed in North American news media outlets.

“I’ll be using the current election as a springboard for potential topics, and combining that with discussions about contemporary art,” Pauley notes. “Right now, my ideas are pretty open-ended, as I’m hoping to cater the specifics of each lesson to my class’s interests.”

In order to become more integrated into the community in which she will live, Pauley also plans to facilitate a book club for members of the university and residents of the surrounding area.

The larger purpose of both her teaching and her book club is “to spark truly authentic dialogue,” Pauley says. “I’m aiming to cultivate conversations that are sincere and comfortable. After all, what’s the point of learning a different language and studying a different culture if we can’t expect honest exchange to come from that?” She wants to ensure that her students understand the reciprocal nature of the classroom, emphasizing that they are teaching her, just as she is teaching them.

Pauley attributes her successful Fulbright application to the assistance of her mentors and recommenders. Elizabeth Clodfelter, Director of the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, was especially instrumental to this process.

“Professor Clodfelter was by my side during the entire application process. She helped me complete the application, found faculty members to interview me, and answered all of my obsessive questions.”

“Grace Pauley was an exceptional creative writing major,” says Clodfelter. “She wrote excellent essays, aced her Fulbright interview, and she is really well-qualified to be an English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. Grace is the first student from Ohio University to get the chance to teach English in Colombia. I very much hope that this opportunity will help her start to have a wonderful career in the future. It was truly a pleasure to work with such a kind and intelligent young woman.”

Dr. Amado Lascar, Associate Professor of Spanish, and Dr. Joseph McLaughlin, Associate Professor of English, also provided letters of recommendation to support Pauley’s application. Lascar notes that Pauley is “very intelligent, hard-working, imaginative, and creative.”

“Grace Pauley was one of the very best students in a talented group that studied Harry Potter and Contemporary British Literature with me in ENG 3150,” adds McLaughlin. “She excelled both on the page and in class discussion. What I found most impressive about Grace was her thoughtfulness and her attraction to complexity. She never settled for easy interpretation, but rather pushed herself to think through sophisticated questions. Her final paper on Zadie Smith’s White Teeth demonstrated her engagement with issues of multiculturalism and globalization without recourse to platitudes. This openness to the text indicated Grace’s suitability for a foreign exchange program like the Fulbright.”

The application also required a foreign language evaluation, conducted by Dr. Betsy Partyka, Associate Professor and Chair of Modern Languages. The process culminated in a Skype interview with Pauley’s potential employers, who are located in Colombia.

After Pauley completes her Fulbright project, she hopes to attend graduate school.

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