• sarah nelson-germany

Sarah Nelson, ‘17

Recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for 2017-18

During my Fulbright year, I lived and worked in Hannover, Germany. Hannover is the capital of Lower Saxony. Hannover’s prime location, with a busy airport and train station, allowed me to travel across Germany, as well as to the Netherlands, Italy, England, Scotland, Greece, Cyprus, Romania, and the Czech Republic. The opportunity to travel to a new city or country multiple times a month quickly became one of the most positive aspects of my time in Germany.

In addition to the ability to travel, the relationships I formed with the locals greatly enriched my Fulbright experience. I gave private tutoring lessons to 4 people, one of them an older woman who grew up in post-World War II Germany. It wasn’t only her determination to learn English at the age of 76 that made me think of her as someone exceptional but also the stories she shared with me about her upbringing after the war. After every English lesson, she would drive me back to the city and share stories about her father, who was a French prisoner of war for five years, her husband, who fought and almost died at the hands of the Russians when he was 17, and her experiences as a German going to school and living at home in the French occupation zone. The opportunity to build relationships with people of different cultures and backgrounds is something not many Americans get to experience, and I believe transatlantic relationships are more important now than ever. Therefore, the challenges I faced when it came to handling difficult matters in a foreign language, such as applying for a visa, or even opening a bank account, were nothing significant when I look back and reflect on the relationships I made.

I am currently earning my personal training certificate. I was a rower and captain of F&M’s women’s rowing team so fitness has always been a part of my life and after returning from Germany, I wanted to add something fitness-related that I knew I’d use to my resume. In addition to personal training, I am also preparing to work for the government, specifically the State Department, as a Foreign Service Officer, or NATO, so that I may continue to serve as an American ambassador to foreign countries while strengthening our alliances and American diplomacy abroad.

Since I am pursuing a career in foreign service, and because I already spent a year in Germany, I hope to be stationed in Germany for one or two of my tours. Therefore, I will definitely be using the German language and knowledge of the German culture in the future! I would like to thank the Franklin & Marshall German Department for their continuous support, while I was abroad or during my undergraduate career. Without their support in and out of the classroom, I wouldn’t have been able to pursue a scholarship as rewarding as the William J. Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. 

  • i. timmons

Imani Timmons, ‘17

Recipient of a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals Fellowship for 2017-18

The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) program starts with an orientation in the U.S. and then one in Germany (In a castle! It was crazy awesome!). Then the language school and cultural immersion phase of the program starts. It lasts for two months and the 75 participants are split into three groups. For this phase I was placed in Radolfzell am Bodensee. Neat little place. I absolutely loved it. My host family was amazing. My host mom refused to speak English with me (my German improved so much!) and she really encouraged me to get out and explore. And we had a dog.

Then the real immersion begins with final placements. The participants are sent off to live in the various states in Germany. There are inevitably small groups in each city. I did not leave my Bundesland, but many others did and some new people came. I traveled up to Stuttgart. It was a bit tense for me, because everyone else knew where they were going to be living for weeks before they departed. I was on the train to Stuttgart and I found out only one hour before I arrived that I finally had a place to live when I got there. Resilience is a big part of the application/selection process and will be a requirement during the program year. 

At this point the study phase starts, where for a part of the semester (~5 months) participants audit courses. I completed this phase at the University of Stuttgart and this phase helped me to figure out what I want to study for my second degree. Then for the last five months of the year students complete an internship or multiple internships. I completed this phase at a branch of Fraunhofer affiliated with the Universität Stuttgart. Fraunhofer is a research institute. That was a very positive experience for me. A combination of really cool and engaged people, really interesting and meaningful work, and unbelievable technology made for an amazing four months. One major difficulty was applying for the internships. It was a grueling and long process for me, but it was also pretty enlightening. I learned a lot about how my work/study experiences applied to a lot of interesting fields. 

I think of CBYX as a cultural, educational and professional exchange program. The goal is to have deeper immersion by having the participants living with host families during the whole of the year. One thing that surprised me was that the holidays were not as difficult as I thought they would be. I found a really great community to plug into and they helped fill what could have been a really lonely time. It was a really awesome and amazing experience.