Student Awards · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

#WFU18 Tatiana Ostwalt’s time in Kazakhstan as a Fulbright TA

Tatiana Ostwalt, WFU18 in Russian, was awarded a Fulbright TA-ship in Kazakhstan for 2020. Unfortunately, her time in Kazakhstan was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, but she has shared this essay and some photographs of her time there with us.

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 1

I was placed in the city of Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan, with a population of about 200,000 people that is located in the south of Kazakhstan. In this region, there is a strong emphasis on the Kazakh culture and Kazakh is more commonly spoken than Russian, as compared to other parts of Kazakhstan. There is a considerable amount of Koreans living in Kazakhstan and as ethnically Korean myself, I would often be thought of as a native until I was heard speaking. This allowed me to blend into my environment fairly well, but also challenged me to continue improving my target language abilities. Although people would be initially surprised to hear that I was American, once I told them about my background, they would quickly understand and be receptive to find out more.

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 3

I taught English 13 hours a week in the Department of Foreign Languages and Translation Studies of a university in my city. My host institution was very welcoming and I had a lot of fun teaching my students. The students were at the very least bilingual, knowing both Kazakh and Russian, and were eager to improve their English with a native speaker and learn about life in the United States. The students I was teaching were majoring in Translation Studies or Education, and were highly driven to be proficient in the languages they were learning to apply to their future careers. 

For almost all of my students, I was the first American they had met and I was happy to share with them about where I was from and represent the U.S. with this cultural exchange. While students were learning about different facets of American life and strengthening their English, I was being educated on the differences of the education system in Kazakhstan and learning more about the Kazakh culture and history. One of my students and a local friend also started teaching me Kazakh. I loved seeing the passion and love the people here had for their ethnic roots and identity, and was glad they wanted to share that with me. Thanks to the support of the Fulbright Program, my host institution, and the local friends I made in my community, the transition process to Kazakhstan was made much smoother. I feel lucky to have formed lasting friendships and bonds there, and feel thankful for the hospitality I was shown by the Kazakh people. I hope I will get the chance to return one day. 

Tatiana in Kazakhstan 2

Faculty research · Student Awards · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

WFU German & Russian Students Receive Fellowships and Internships to Travel the World


The town of Imst, Austria, where Elizabeth Waid (WFU19) will be teaching English as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant

Spring is usually an exciting place on college campuses, as students learn of summer fellowships, internships, and post-graduate opportunities.  For our department, even more so: we have had a record-breaking yield on student honors, awards, and fellowships.  Take a look at the following updates we have received to date:

Our department always has a number of successful Fulbright applicants each year.  These students usually go on to spend a year in Germany, Austria, or, recently, the Czech Republic, to teach English to high school students.  This year, 25% of the WFU students selected as Fulbright semi-finalists were from the German and Russian Department!  From that list, the following were selected as recipients or alternates:
Jessica Wu (Mathematical Economics & German Major, 2019) has received a Fulbright Teaching Assistant award to spend next year teaching English at a German high school;
Elizabeth Waid (Economics & German Major, 2019) has been named an alternate for a German Fulbright Teaching Assistantship, and has also been awarded the parallel award to teach English next year in Austria;
Emily Beeland (Sociology & German Studies Major, 2019) has been named an alternate for Austrian Teaching Assistantship.  And hold onto your hats: she has also been offered a job at Walt Disney World, starting this June!
In addition to those exciting year-long stays, FOUR of our students have been offered a WFU Richter Grant, which funds summer travel and research abroad.  These are competitive awards, so having four people from our department – let along from a department of our small size – is outstanding.  Take a look at their fascinating proposed projects:
Riley Phillips (Studio Art & German Major) will be based in Berlin, researching the intersections between German internationalism and the world of high fashion;
Cameron Allen (Politics & International Affairs) will be pursuing her project “An Exploration of Modern Afro-German Activism”;
Sunny Calhoun (Women & Gender Studies) will be researching a project titled “German Queer Public Histories”;
Andy Weicheng Jiang (Mathematical Economics Major & Russian Minor) will be travelling to Koenigsberg and Gdansk, where he will explore the shifting cultural identities of these places after the Second World War.
Our students are very lucky to have Dr. Heiko Wiggers as a mentor for all things related to internships. This year, after a competitive application process, including rigorous rounds interviews, two students have been offered paid internships in Germany:
Nick Mazzella (German & Finance Major, 2020) will be with Ernst & Young in Frankfurt;
Will McKay (German & Business Major, 2020) will be returning to Kieselbronn to work with Elvation a medical device company.  They liked him so much last summer that they hired him again!
In our batch of last year’s graduates, Kimberly Annas (2018) has been accepted into the Ph.D. program for Germanic Languages and Literatures at Washington University in St. Louis, starting this fall.

And the good news doesn’t stop with the students!  Associate Professor Grant McAllister was recently named the Levison Faculty Fellow.  This is one of a very small number of faculty fellowships awarded each year to the most outstanding teacher-scholars at WFU.  Competition for this honor is extremely rigorous, so a huge congratulations to Dr. McAllister!

Congratulations, everyone!  The joy we get from teaching you is beyond measure.  May your adventures be equally thrilling!
And students: if you have exciting news to share about your plans for next year, let us know so that we can brag about you, too!
Student Awards · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

Hello From the Czech Repubic! WFU Grad’s Fulbright Adventure

David Burch, Russian major and WFU’18 grad, is currently teaching English in the Czech Republic on a Fulbright. He sent us this update and some photos of his adventures! Here’s what David has to say:

I am teaching at an arts high school for designers and woodworkers. I have gotten into the teaching rhythm, taken many trips with my students, been to the U.S. Embassy for a banquet, experienced lots of Czech food and drink, and done every Czech activity from mushrooming to something resembling a medieval battle.

carp harvest

A Czech carp harvest
Teachers tend to tell me what they want the day before, and I usually spend that afternoon making the lesson for the next day. I work with three different teachers, teaching 6 classes for each teacher (18 total) every week. I also have two clubs I do with the students: Music and Conversation club, and North American Culture Club. 
david with school principal
From right to left: David, another teacher at the school, and the school’s principal
The students and teachers seem to like me, and I like them. I often spend time with the fellow teachers at my school, and I’ve attended several parties and events with them. Going to the pub on a Friday (or any weekday) after work is the cultural norm here, and my colleagues get to practice their English with me this way.  
town square
The town square of Hradec Kralove, where David is posted
The relationship between the teachers and students is quite informal at this school. I think that many students hold a great deal of trust in me and see me also as a sort of counselor. 
The Czech Fulbright Commission has an excellent staff, and they have been super supportive of me and my placement at this school. I’m very happy to be working for them.
My adventures with the students have ranged from camping trips to art galleries, and I’ve had a blast. They are very respectful and mature teenagers, and I imagine that I’ll be friends with many of them long after I leave. For many of them, their English is not so great, but their desire to learn the language is greater. 
An extraordinarily large percentage of my students play guitar (and make guitars) and love rock music, so, as a musician myself, there’s lots to do and talk about. I have been invited to several concerts, and one of them even plays in a well-known AC/DC tribute band. Other students are designers, who make everything from sculptures to computerized cartoons to house plans. Still, other students are poets, singers, and writers. The “arts school aspect” is truly amazing, and I never would have expected that so much talent could be concentrated in one small Czech school. This is probably my favorite aspect of being here. 
Guitars made by David’s students
My Russian language skills–and language skills in general–have proved very valuable here. I’ve even befriended some Russian-speaking Ukrainians who live here in Hradec, so I get to practice my Russian.
Right now, I think I’ll most likely teach English elsewhere in Eastern Europe another year and enter graduate school in 2020. Though, the University of Amsterdam has a very appealing Masters Program in Linguistics that I’m going to apply to this year.
Prague at midday at midwinter

A huge congratulations once again to David for his Fulbright Award, and we’re thrilled to hear he’s doing so well and having such a good time in the Czech Republic!

Department Events · Travel Abroad · Uncategorized

Four German and Russian Students Chosen as Wake Forest Fulbright Finalists

The Department of German and Russian is delighted to announce that of the 16 WFU finalists for Fulbright awards this year, four of them are from our department!  It just shows what kind of opportunities studying German or Russian can get you.  All of them are now finalists for English Teaching Assistantships in their respective countries and their applications have been forwarded on to the next stage in the process.  We offer them a huge congratulations on getting this far and wish them the best of luck in the next stage.

Our finalists are:

Kimberly Annas, German Major, Teaching Assistant, Germany

Kimberly Annas

David Burch, Russian Major, Teaching Assistant, Czech Republic

David Burch

Tatiana Ostwalt, Russian Major, Teaching Assistant, Russia


Will Teuscher, German Major, Teaching Assistant, Germany

Will Teuscher

Once again congratulations to our students and best of luck!  Whatever happens they definitely have an exciting year ahead of them.