Fulbright scholars enjoy year abroad

Last spring, the Fulbright Program, founded in 1946 with the purpose of encouraging the exchange of information among different cultures, awarded four University of Alabama alumnae and one professor the recognition of Fulbright scholars.

Rachel Hunkler, Carolyn Bero, Emma Fick and Anna Foley are all spending this school year abroad teaching English and researching.

Hunkler will spend her Fulbright year in Madrid, Spain.

“I studied abroad in Spain with the UA in Spain program two summers ago and completely fell in love with the country. After graduation, I knew I wanted to go back for a longer stay,” Hunkler said.

While there, she will assist an instructor in teaching Spanish. She also plans to form a club that will allow students to learn more about American culture and the English language outside of the classroom.

Bero will join Hunkler in Spain, teaching in a suburb of Madrid. She also has plans to teach students more about American culture.

“I’d love to work with an outside-of-school program to encourage cultural interaction and appreciation or with a Model United Nations group,” Bero said.

Fick, who studied both English and art history while at the University, is also teaching English – but in Serbia.

“My grandmother’s family escaped Vienna during World War II because of the generosity of a Serbian man who paid for their passage to Serbia, and from Serbia to Ellis Island, New York City,” Fick said. “I applied to Serbia because I wanted to learn about and give back to the culture that showed astounding generosity to my family so many years ago.”

Fick also plans to study the Byzantine artwork in many of Serbia’s monasteries while abroad.

Foley, who graduated from the University in 2011, was the final UA alumna to receive a Fulbright scholarship. Before being named a Fulbright scholar, she had taken a position with Teach for America as a bilingual instructor in Colorado. She will be taking a break from her job for a year in order to teach English to students in Brazil.

These graduates have varying plans of what they want to do after they finish their Fulbright ventures. Hunkler plans to use her year abroad to prepare for her career as a Spanish teacher in America. Bero plans to continue teaching English abroad until she can study political science at the graduate level. Fick hopes to work with AmeriCorps for a year before pursuing a career in arts administration at a university.

In addition to these graduates, the Fulbright Program also provided a professor from the University the opportunity to travel abroad to achieve her professional goals. Catherine Roach of New College is in the United Kingdom this year in order to conduct final interviews with members of the U.K. Romantic Novelists Association. She will use these interviews to finish her book on the influence of the romance genre on popular culture.

“[Romance’s] central narrative – ‘find your one true love and live happily ever after’ – is one of the core cultural stories about how to live the good life, omnipresent in movies, music lyrics, advertising, etc. This story is hugely influential in cultural productions and in individual life. We pursue love, sex and romance sometimes to our benefit but also to our detriment. I’m writing this book so I can think about how and why,” Roach said.

Her fellowship will enable her to publish her book in 2015.

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