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Alumni profile: Joe Ellerbroek BA ’13

May 01, 2014

Joe Ellerbroek BA ’13

Major: German Studies
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa 

Can you describe your Fulbright award, where you will be traveling, and what you’ll be doing while you’re there?

I will be working as a language assistant at an Austrian secondary school starting this fall. The Fulbright commission placed me at two schools near Innsbruck, Austria, where I will lead English conversation classes with students about the same age as those in our high school system. 

What drew you to studying a foreign language? What excites you about the idea of teaching English in the country you have been placed?

I enjoyed studying a foreign language because it builds relationships. In the first year of learning a language, it feels a bit like going back to elementary school. We talked about everyday basics like our favorite foods and where we came from. Things get more academically sophisticated in the later years, but we never lost the spirit that we were there to get to know people. I learned that a language is the living, breathing space of relationships, and a good space in which to spend my time at Lewis & Clark.

I had a chance to be in Austria during my year abroad and felt right at home with the culture, the food, and the mountains. I’m excited to hear what the students think about the world, and I’m excited to be there as they build the same relationships that I built from learning a language. 

How do you think your Lewis & Clark education has contributed to you seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

Lewis & Clark gave me the opportunity to learn about another culture in depth. Thoughtful teachers gave me the tools to recognize differences and similarities between my background and another culture. I learned how to really communicate in another culture. That makes the difference in being a global citizen, because I can find shared problems and passions between us. 

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Fulbright experience will figure in those plans?

I’m looking into teaching more in the future, either at home or abroad. The challenge of teaching in another culture will be great experience to carry into future teaching positions.

Any advice to share with other Lewis & Clark students applying for similar awards in the future?

Get some experience working with young people either at a summer camp or after-school program, not just so you can add it to your curriculum vitae, but so you can reflect on what it is like to be with people who are learning. Spend time thinking about how that impacted you, and bring that to your application. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say to future Lewis & Clark students?

Try new things and don’t worry about shaping a “perfect college experience.” Most paths have a way of working out. 

Foreign Languages


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