Olivia Gear ’15 has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Saxony, Germany, starting in August.
The Appleton, Wis., native applied for the yearlong English Teaching Assistantship Program because of her experiences at Concordia.
“During my time at Concordia, my overall interest in international politics grew, increasing my desire to broaden my worldview,” Gear says.
In 2013, she received the Federation of German-American Clubs’ scholarship, an award that allowed her to spend a year in Germany. The scholarship goes to one student each year and is designed to reinvigorate relationships between German and American cultures.
“Through these mixed communications of English, German, and an abundance of hand motions, I developed an assortment of techniques to articulate concisely what I wanted to say and to help me better understand the person with whom I was speaking,” Gear says.
When she returned, she spent a semester in Washington, D.C., where she interned on Capitol Hill. There, she met another student who wanted to apply for the Fulbright program in India.
With her recent German experience fresh in her mind and the conversation buzzing in her ears, Gear applied for the German assistantship.
“When you travel, you are faced with alternative cultures that have a different way of doing, thinking and believing,” Gear says. “It really challenges your assumptions and makes you shift your way of looking at things.”
Since her return to the U.S., Gear has been visiting high schools to articulate and share her experiences in Germany, instilling the enthusiasm to learn and grow.
“Not only is she encouraging the students to study the language, she’s getting them excited about attending Concordia,” says Dr. Stephen Grollman, associate professor of German.
“She’s able to bring back her experiences to build on herself and the community,” says Dr. Jonathan Clark, associate professor of German. “She has used the knowledge and insight she has gained to share with others.”
Gear looks forward to seeing her European friends again as she immerses herself into the culture through travel and by attending festivities like Oktoberfest. Gear also hopes to strengthening her language skills, learn more about the country, and broaden her perspective by developing international relationships.
“Experiencing Germany again will give me a deeper understanding of the American culture that I hope to use someday in my career, whatever that may be,” Gear says.