Three Colby seniors, winners of prestigious Fulbright grants for the coming year, will depart for Europe and Asia following graduation. Elizabeth Grun ’16 of Water Mill, N.Y.; Lynna Lei ’16 of San Francisco, Calif.; and William Qualey ’16 of Norridgewock, Maine, will spend the 2016-17 academic year as English teaching assistants in Germany, Taiwan, and Austria respectively.
Elizabeth Grun, a government and economics double major with minor in German, will teach in the Free State of Saxony, in eastern Germany along the Polish and Czech borders. She hasn’t been assigned to a school or city, but she’s eager to see a new part of Germany, having spent the spring semester of her junior year in western Germany.
“When I was abroad in Germany, Professor [Arne] Koch sent us emails saying, ‘You should consider applying for this [the Fulbright].’ It was near the end, so I was upset about having to come back the United States,” she recalled. Back at Colby, however, she connected her major and minor fields by using an economics senior seminar to research differences between east and west Germany when it comes to poverty and unemployment .
She’s worked with children at a summer camp for a number of years and enjoys teaching, but, “Mostly I wanted to get back to Germany and I wanted to practice my German to be fluent,” she said. She’s considering grad school, perhaps law school, in the future, but isn’t clear on a career path as yet. “I’ve heard that the Fulbright will give you entry into other things, and that you can find your interest while you’re over there.”
Lynna Lei, a psychology and East Asian studies double major who concentrated in Chinese, joked that friends told her there are very good mangoes in Taiwan. “I love mangoes. I applied for the mangoes,” she joked. More seriously, she said that when she told her advisor, Ziskind Professor of East Asian Studies Kim Besio, that she wanted to teach English in China or Taiwan, Besio said, “Do a Fulbright! Do a Fulbright!”
Lei said a museum workshop course she took in January 2015 got her interested in museum work. “I’d have to go to graduate school, so more school is in my future.” Did she find an unexpected calling through Jan Plan? “I hope so,” she said. “I will report back.” This summer she’s doing research in China, about museum culture there, working with Jetté Professor of Art Ankeney Weitz and Assistant Professor of Art Mariola Alvarez. While at Colby she did research in psychology, East Asian studies, and art, including studies of nature and attention restoration and of photographer Zhao Mengfu, both of which she presented at the Colby Liberal Arts Symposium in April.
Assigned to Taichung County in Taiwan, Lei didn’t have a specific school assignment, but said she’s eager to improve her Chinese language skills and to see part of Asia she hasn’t seen.
Will Qualey is a German and history double major who learned German at Skowhegan Area High School, spent the summer between high school and college as an au pair in Austria, and taught at a boarding school in Germany between his semesters abroad. “I think I learned a lot more about myself personally than I did about Germany,” he said of study abroad. “Learning your limits, learning what you can and can’t do, learning what you’re interested in doing, learning how you interact with other people.”
As a Presidential Scholar at Colby, Qualey was Professor Koch’s research assistant as a first-year student, working on a book project about cats in German literature. He subsequently worked as a research assistant for Gibson Professor of History Elizabeth Leonard, Katz Professor of History Raffael Scheck, Dana Professor of French Adrianna Paliyenko, and NEH/Class of 1940 Distinguished Professor of Humanities Laurie Osborne. “In all of them I’ve been able to use language skills,” he said, “and that’s definitely been the most fulfilling aspect of it, because doing primary-source documents in German or translating from German is good to bolster your language skills.”
Technically his award is from the U.S. Teaching Assistant Program of the Austrian Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs, coordinated by Fulbright Austria, and he has been assigned to teach in two schools in Eisenstadt, Austria. “One of the things I’ve considered most seriously is becoming a professor, so the teaching skills, even if they’re on a different level, will be really helpful,” he said.