Moorhead native Rachel Schaefer ’18 will be working in Colombia next year thanks to a Fulbright award.
Schaefer has been awarded an English Teaching Assistantship through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and will be working at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Manizales.
Manizales is the capital city of one of the smallest Colombian departments (Colombia is divided into departments instead of states), Caldas, located in the mountainous coffee-growing region of western Colombia near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.
Schaefer will also be volunteering in addition to her teaching position.
“I am hoping to work with at-risk young people as I did during my time in Rwanda last summer,” Schaefer said. “My idea is to find several organizations already working in the city and see where, and if, they need help.”
Ideally, she would like to assist as a tutor or after-school program leader but is open to other needs.
Schaefer joins the approximately 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists who have had the opportunities afforded them by a Fulbright. They have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. Alumni include 59 Nobel laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 71 MacArthur fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program, sponsored by the U.S. government established in 1946.
A Spanish and education double major, Schaefer studied in Spain for a semester and hopes it helped prepare her for living and working in a Spanish-speaking country. She also taught at a diverse, academically challenging school in Norway and feels her experience there helped prepare her for teaching English to university students.
“I know there will still be a lot to learn when I get there, but I feel confident that with my preparation I will be able to adjust to my new life in Colombia,” she said.
This summer before her teaching assistantship begins, she is traveling to Tanzania with the Concordia Language Villages and the Singita Grumeti Fund to teach English to young students in northern Tanzania.
“After Colombia, I do not have any specific plans, but I would potentially like to serve in the Peace Corps or volunteer abroad for several more years,” Schaefer said. “Eventually, I would like to teach in an inner city area of the U.S. and pursue further schooling.”
In just over four years, Schaefer will have traveled to Norway, Rwanda, Spain, Tanzania and Colombia – influencing the affairs of the world along the way.
“My goal is to end up working as an education advocate for those who do not have easy access to education, potentially as a part of the United Nations,” Schaefer said.