Sarah Vrtiska of La Vista, a University of Nebraska–Lincoln senior, will spend the next academic year in Germany teaching English through the Fulbright program.
Vrtiska, a global studies and German major with minors in Japanese and Asian studies, previously studied abroad in Germany during a six-week, faculty-led program at the Humboldt Institute in Berlin.
The Papillion-La Vista graduate and University Honors Program member has kept busy during her time at Nebraska. She credited her experiences at the university with preparing her for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“I think specifically in global studies, there is a real enthusiasm for understanding and interacting with the broader world that is cultivated. I feel it really has prepared me and humbled me to live and interact with a culture outside my own,” Vrtiska said. “Also, all of my classes in the German department, and even my Japanese classes, have really just made me more and more excited about learning foreign languages, and have helped me understand the importance of it.”
Vrtiska has been a volunteer and tutor for immigrants in need of English language instruction. She has also been the president of the university’s Global Friends of Japan and has volunteered with Culture Shock, an annual event at Nebraska that promotes awareness and conversation around different cultures at the university.
Vrtiska said returning to Germany will be a way to further engage with a language she has been studying since her freshman year of high school. She is excited by the opportunity to practice using German every day and to be reunited with the culture.
To make the most of their time abroad, Fulbright recipients are encouraged to expand their experiences outside of the classroom via volunteering or community outreach. Vrtiska has decided to start a movie club as a way to spark conversations about broader aspects of American and German culture.
Upon returning to the United States, Vrtiska plans to continue her engagement with languages with the long-term goal of obtaining a teaching certificate focused on teaching German.
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 Vrtiska are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.