If I had to decide on the most rewarding year in my (adult) life, it would be without a doubt my year as a Fulbright teaching assistant at the College of Wooster in 2005–06. And that’s saying something, because luckily I’ve had many rewarding years in my life. That was ten years ago and ever since I have been trying to bring my unique American experiences into my English lessons in Austrian classrooms.
It has always felt great being a member of the Austrian Fulbright Alumni Association and staying connected with other people who had similar enriching experiences. I knew that one day I wanted to work together with American students/college graduates again in order to help establish ties between Austria and the USA – two countries very dear to my heart. For that reason I didn’t hesitate a moment to take on what I consider a great honor – teaching and leading an induction week for future US teaching assistants before they start their assistantships at Austrian high schools each year. It seems the wheel has come full circle and I’m doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to in my professional life. It is a privilege and a pleasure to spend an intense week doing didactic and cultural workshops and team-building activities with young people “full of bright minds”. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without having had my own Fulbright-experience 10 years ago.
The USTA program is a true success story with a tremendous impact on TAs and Austrian high schoolers alike. I can tell from personal experience that it is every Austrian English teacher’s dream to work together with a language assistant. In this program the true heart of the Fulbright idea comes alive in a manifold of ways, promoting mutual understanding, connecting people, and creating a splendid network of transatlantic friendships.
Mag. Roland Schwarz was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 2005–06.