Springfield, Ohio - For the past several years, Wittenberg University's Department of World Languages has been fortunate to host Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA). This year is no different as the university welcomes Marina Nikonova of Russia and Xiaowei Hou of China.
Nikonova and Hou are among nearly 400 young educators from 50 countries who traveled to the United States for the 2016-17 academic year. The goal of the FLTA program and partnering schools is to help internationalize U.S. colleges and universities as they prepare students for the globalized world.
Recipients of Fulbright FLTA grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential. Recipients spend one year at an accredited post-secondary educational institution in the United States as non-degree students. Both Nikonova and Hou are required to attend at least two academic courses per semester during their stay at Wittenberg.
"I'll try my best to inspire students interested in studying Chinese and help them understand Chinese culture," Hou said.
Wittenberg's FLTAs will work closely with faculty in the Russian and Chinese programs to assist with language classes.
"As both students and educators, their participation in student and academic life contributes to the internationalization of our campus," explained Department Chair and Associate Professor of Languages Ruth Hoff. "An essential goal for their time on campus is to help increase intercultural awareness and understanding through conversations with other students, tutoring for language classes, and contributions to class discussions."
This cultural intersection is what excites Nikonova about teaching this year.
"I am able to immerse myself in a new world and show students what Russia is like in reality," she said.
In return, Nikonova will return home and share her first-hand knowledge of the United States, its customs and its people. FLTAs will participate in community events and campus activities to help increase their knowledge of American culture and share their language, cultural values and customs of their own countries to inspire students to travel and study overseas and make U.S. citizens better prepared to engage with businesses, governments and organizations abroad.
Although fluency in English is a requirement to participate, FLTAs add an up-to-date cultural component to foreign language classes.
The Fulbright Program was established in 1947 under legislation introduced by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright program has given approximately 360,000 people the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research at schools committed to the exchange of international ideals like Wittenberg University.
-Emma Arace '17, Office of University Communications