Laura Jensen, a senior secondary English (7-12) and German major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, has earned a Fulbright award to teach English, perform volunteer service and study in Austria.
After spending a semester in Berlin and volunteering with Yazidi communities in Lincoln at the refugee-serving nonprofit Juniper Refuge, Jensen said she realized the importance of cultural relations and supporting those who are seeking safety and security. These interests led the Lincoln native, who will graduate May 14, to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and its mission of building mutual understanding between nations. Jensen applied for and received the Community-Based Combined Grant, a special Fulbright award offered only in Austria. Recipients work part-time as teaching assistants at Austrian secondary schools while conducting projects or internships at community organizations and taking university courses.
This fall, Jensen will travel to Vienna to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Austrian classrooms while studying at the University of Vienna and volunteering at Integrationshaus, a refugee organization. She plans to introduce her students to a variety of minority voices in American literature and to continue to use art therapy techniques, which she learned at Juniper Refuge, to allow refugees to share perspectives and culture.
Jensen, who is also a member of the University Honors Program, said she hopes to grow in her understanding of intercultural relations and better understand the diverse supports that can be provided to new community members.
“With her personal warmth, inclusive mindset and attitude of service, Laura will be a fantastic cultural ambassador,” said Courtney Santos, director of national and international fellowships at Nebraska. “She can share the ways in which Lincoln and Nebraska have been transformed and reinvigorated by the contributions of our vibrant immigrant communities.”
Upon her return, Jensen plans to work toward a master’s degree in literature and continue her work with local refugees.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between Americans and citizens of other countries; counter misunderstandings; and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the program has provided more than 400,000 participants from more than 160 countries the opportunity to study; teach and conduct research; exchange ideas; and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
At Nebraska, the Office of National and International Fellowships advises and nominates undergraduate candidates for 30 supported scholarships and fellowships. To learn more, students and campus community members may contact Courtney Santos, director of national and international fellowships, at firstname.lastname@example.org.