Education Abroad Peer Advisor accepted into Fulbright ETA Program

Suzanna Shugert’s love affair with Mexico began on a middle school church trip. A decade and several return trips later, her passion for Mexican language and culture continues to grow.

In August, Suzanna will return to Mexico to complete an academic year-long Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). Over the course of several church trips to Mexico as a teenager, Suzanna immersed herself into Mexican culture and life at Arbol de Vida orphanage in Juarez, Mexico, staying in the same dorms and eating the same food as staff and residents. She and other volunteers helped with whatever the orphanage needed, sorting and organizing clothing and food donations so the staff could more easily allocate the resources to the children. Through this experience, Suzanna realized that cultural relations are about sharing and learning, rather than one culture imposing its practices on another.

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In high school, Suzanna began taking Spanish classes and quickly grew fond of the language, and in college, she studied abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico. She enrolled in university that allowed her to attend school with locals and to take classes taught entirely in Spanish. After her semester abroad, Suzanna wanted to stay involved in anything that would keep her internationally connected, so she applied to be a peer advisor in CSU’s Education Abroad office, where she now works to instill a love of international experiences in all students.

On May 14, Suzanna graduates from Colorado State University with a double major in International Studies and Spanish and is thrilled to have received a Fulbright grant that will allow her to return to Mexico as an English Teaching Assistant. She is looking forward to teaching alongside a native Spanish speaker and local Mexican resident. While abroad, Suzanna is excited to learn more about the Mexican education system, build relationships with locals and work on her Spanish fluency.

“I applied to the Fulbright program because they focus on cultural exchange and mutual understanding,” Suzanna says. “Fulbright combines my three passions, which are Mexico and its culture, Spanish and education.”

The Fulbright Program requires ETA’s to focus on a side-project while they are abroad to fill time outside of their 20 hours a week spent teaching. Applicants are required to discuss their side-project ideas in their applications, and the Fulbright Program takes each applicant’s ideas into consideration when selecting grant awardees. Suzanna’s side-project will focus on the patterns of immigration and community engagement in Mexico. In the future, she hopes to foster engagement within developing areas in Mexico so locals will stay and invest in the future of their community instead of traveling to other more developed countries.

Although her plans post-Fulbright are not concrete, Suzanna hopes to pursue a Teaching Certificate to work in a bilingual elementary school and is confident she will never cease to learn more about the world and its remarkably beautiful and diverse inhabitants.

More About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

 

Graduating CSU seniors and graduate students interested in applying for a Fulbright student award should contact mary.swanson@colostate.edu.