Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116
URI student awarded a Fulbright
to teach in Germany
KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 23, 2003 -- Family and friends will be saying auf Wiedersehen this August when Jennifer Hurtubise boards a plane for Germany where she will spend the next year teaching English to German high school students.
A Fulbright teaching assistantship will pay for her entire German experience. Hurtubise, a senior at the University of Rhode Island who will graduate next month with a degree in German language and literature, is the first undergraduate student at URI to be awarded a Fulbright. Congress established the Fulbright Program in the aftermath of World War II and named it after the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The principal purpose of the program is to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The program funds a variety of educational activities, primarily university lecturing, advanced research, graduate study and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.
When she first arrived at URI on a full Centennial Scholarship, Hurtubise who commutes to school by bus from Warwick, thought she would study physics. She was advised to learn the German language. Two events, however, stopped her from following in the footsteps of Kepler and Galileo and pointed her in the direction of the land of Beethoven and Octoberfests.
The first was a URI-sponsored trip to Innsbruck, Austria during the spring break of her sophomore year. Unable to translate some of the things she was hearing and reading to her friends, Hurtubise decided to put learning German higher on her priority list.
The second event was attending URIs German Summer School for two summers. The Deutsche SommerSchule Am Atlantik, as the school is called, is an intensive six-week residential program, which provides courses in the German language and culture on the Kingston campus. The school generally attracts a blend of professors, professionals, high school, and college students. After attending the summer school once, she signed up for another session the next summer.
"I was a little nervous at first," the Warwick resident admits, "but after a couple of weeks of only speaking German, I could communicate with my classmates."
To keep up with her German, the URI student spent Thanksgiving visiting a friend in Oberasbach, Germany, whom she met during the summer school. She also drops by the weekly Kaffeestunde, a coffee hour at URIs International Engineering Program house where only German is spoken to play cards, the German game of "Skat," or to socialize.
After a semester of intercultural training, the honor student was an English Language Fellow for three semesters at URI. Through the program, she was a "study buddy" for three international students, two Japanese women and a Chinese woman. Her role included helping each buddy with homework, engaging them in conversation, discussing matters of cultural differences, and providing moral support. Not only did her buddies learn something about America, the URI student learned about their countries and more about her own.
"Learning a language is more than just learning its grammar," she says. "Its also learning about a culture."
While in Germany, Hurtubise plans to travel the country as much as possible when shes not in the classroom. Although she can read a history about the fall of the Berlin Wall, shell now have the opportunity to walk through Checkpoint Charlie. She particularly wants to visit the streets where composers like Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven lived, to see copies of their works written in their hand, and to hear some of their works played in the locations where they once premiered.
The soon-to-be URI grad is not sure about her career path. She may go on to graduate school or teach elementary students. Or she may pursue writing and poetry. No matter what language you say it in, the Fulbright scholar is bound to be successful.