Lycoming College today added two recent graduates to its list of Fulbright award winners. Recently named among the 2019-20 class of prestigious Fulbright scholars, the two will travel to opposite ends of the globe to pursue teaching endeavors, to enrich their understanding of different cultures, and to share American culture with their students.
This year’s award winners include Rachel Ham ’18, an archaeology, history and German major from Houston, Texas, who is currently a tutor for Academic Independence; and Zachary High ’18, a biology and Spanish major from Lock Haven, Pa. As grantees, Ham and High join the ranks of more than 390,000 “Fulbrighters” who have participated in the program since its establishment in 1946. As Fulbright recipients, they will have the opportunity to work collaboratively with international partners, as well as the local communities in which they will reside while on their Fulbright exchanges.
Examining relationships and identity in Germany
Ham’s award will take her to Germany’s Lower Saxony to work as an English teaching assistant at a German secondary school. As a native English speaker, Ham will provide insights to students on American culture and the English language. Fulfilling the obligations of a Fulbright scholar, she will work to foster an intercultural understanding between Americans and her German communities, and plans to fulfill this duty in part by setting up community gardens. Ham would also like to use her background in community theater to put on a play in English to better engage her students. Although Ham’s study of German began later than most – not until her sophomore year at Lycoming – she came to both love the language and the act of learning it.
“This past year as a tutor, I have worked with all types of students, and I find that it is so common for many of them to think of learning a language as just something to do to check a box. I really liked watching the students I work with grow to love and appreciate a new language and I like the notion that I can do the same for students abroad as well, and encourage a love of my native tongue,” said Ham. “My ultimate plan is to work as a professor in higher education, and study the interplay of cultures and — the connections between language and identity, while offering the same mentorship to students that my advisors at Lycoming provided me. The Fulbright grant can allow me to further my study of language, pass on that passion to other students, and prepare me for a career as an educator by allowing me to develop a comfortable report with students and engage in a community.”
At the close of Ham’s 10-month appointment, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in medieval history at either the University of Jena or Heidelberg.
Healing through language and culture in Vietnam
Several factors influenced High's decision to pursue a Fulbright in Vietnam. Since Vietnamese is the fifth most-spoken language in the United States, he hopes to improve his fluency in the language in order to more easily connect with a wider population when he returns. In addition, High's former Vietnamese roommate introduced him to the culture, piquing his interest about the Asian country. Although he is still awaiting details of his specific placement, High knows that his 10 months abroad will be spent teaching English to high school, college, or university students, as well as implementing programs to help students learn more about American culture.
"As an aspiring physician, I wish to understand more than just the cellular and chemical abnormalities underlying a patient's illness. While a strong background in science is essential in order to provide accurate diagnoses, a good physician must also possess the skills to effectively communicate the significance of these diagnoses within the context of the patient's life. Therefore, I believe it is equally important to consider the patient's home environment, their ideas about body and health, and their overall belief system," said High. "While living in Vietnam, I am excited by the opportunity to explore these important cultural differences, as this understanding will allow me to provide better care to a more diverse patient population."
Upon completion of his Fulbright, High will attend the Penn State College of Medicine.
"Lycoming College creates lifelong learners, and these Fulbright awards will provide Rachel and Zachary an unparalleled opportunity to feed their passions and continue learning through teaching," said Kent C. Trachte, Ph.D., president of Lycoming College. "We're extraordinarily proud of the work these young graduates have completed and we are confident that these experiences will only amplify the character of their personal and professional lives."
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