Katie Batenhorst of Omaha, a recent University of Nebraska–Lincoln graduate, will spend the next academic year teaching in Malaysia through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award.
Batenhorst, who earned a Bachelor of Arts with high distinction in global studies and sociology in December 2018, decided to apply for a Fulbright award to engage with a new culture and develop her teaching skills in an immersive environment. While the Skutt Catholic graduate has studied abroad and traveled to a variety of countries, she has never been anywhere in Asia or the Pacific. For Batenhorst, the award will be an opportunity to connect with a new region while using what she has learned as an intern at the Asian Community and Cultural Center, a local organization that serves immigrants and refugees through programming and a celebration of Asian culture.
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 U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 160 designated countries. Students such as Batenhorst are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
“My education at Nebraska has given me the independence, maturity, open-mindedness and initiative to be an effective (English Teaching Assistant),” Batenhorst said.
Batenhorst also brings to the program ample teaching experience. She has tutored at Lincoln Literacy, a nonprofit that offers English classes to refugees and immigrants. She has also been a tutor at Ulertuz, a nonprofit in Bilbao, Spain, that provides English classes for children who are hard of hearing.
To make the most of their time abroad, Fulbright recipients are encouraged to expand their experience outside of the classroom via volunteering or community outreach. Batenhost has decided to become involved with or establish an art club at her school, using her background in art to encourage students’ creative thinking and personal expression. She also hopes to volunteer at a local or national organization that supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, such as Women’s Aid Organization.
Upon her return to the United States, Batenhorst plans to apply for the Peace Corps as an education or youth-development volunteer. She then plans to pursue a master’s degree in nonprofit management, community and international development, or a related field before finding a position at an inter-governmental agency or international nonprofit.