Fulbright student Courtney Leikam to teach, study in Germany

Fulbright student Courtney Leikam to teach, study in Germany

Courtney Leikam
Courtney Leikam

Courtney Leikam, a graduate of Lincoln Southwest High School and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, plans to use her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany to improve her German language skills and expand her knowledge of the country's culture.

Leikam, a German and global studies major with minors in women's and gender studies and human rights and humanitarian affairs at UNL, is one of five UNL students chosen for an ETA grant during the 2015-16 academic year.

"I was very excited when I found out," the UNL Honors Program student said. "I realize that it is very competitive and I am proud to have been awarded an opportunity to participate in the program."

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 155 designated countries. About 8,000 grants are awarded annually, and about 1,600 of those are awarded to U.S. students.

Leikam traveled to Germany for the first time through UNL's Deutsch in Deutschland program in the spring semester of 2014. While there, Leikam interned at a Montessori grade school and the Pettenkoffer Grundschule in Berlin. She later interned for The Educators' Institute for Human Rights in Kigali, Rwanda.

Her return to Germany through the ETA is a welcome one.

“Because the Germany ETA is only 20 hours a week, Courtney will have plenty of time outside of the classroom to practice her own skills as a language student in German," said Laura Damuth, UNL's fellowship adviser. Speaking with her students and other residents will provide an environment of immersion to facilitate her goal of fluency.

Leikam has larger plans for integrating into the community and fostering a spirit of sharing. Since she is interested in women's issues, she plans to be involved in local women's groups, comparing them to those in the United States and identifying key issues. She also plans to host viewings of American films and television shows to explore cultural elements and provide a setting for cultural exchange.

Leikam sees a global future for herself. Upon her return, she plans to work for an international organization like the United Nations.

“Studying abroad confirmed the fact that I want to be engaged internationally in the future, and that I could do something with German as well,” she said.

She is among five UNL students who earned Fulbrights in 2015.