Grace Solem-Pfeifer, of Omaha, a May 2016 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Cyprus for the 2017-18 academic year.
Encouraged by her UCARE adviser Vanessa Gorman, Solem-Pfeifer applied because she wanted to gain cross-cultural experience and she was impressed by the program’s focus not just on what the applicants take from the experience, but what they contribute to their host countries. She also has a deep interest in languages and global affairs.
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 Solem-Pfeifer are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
As a global studies, classical languages, Latin American studies and Spanish major, Solem-Pfeifer displayed the academic preparation and leadership that the Fulbright program aims to support. She chose Cyprus because she wants to engage in the vibrant legacy of an ancient civilization while creating meaningful dialogues between countries. She said she believes her study of ancient Greek, Latin and Spanish, along with her involvement with the Omaha Literacy Center teaching ESL grammar classes, gives her the right skills to relate to her students and adapt her lessons to their needs.
Solem-Pfeifer also expressed interest in working with the refugee community in Cyprus. She said she hopes to use her previous experience working with vulnerable populations at Lincoln’s Friendship Home Domestic Abuse Shelter to provide aid and English lessons to refugees and displaced children.
Upon returning to the United States, she plans to explore the relationships between languages and their speakers by pursuing a dual master’s degree in linguistics and international relations. She said she hopes to conduct research on the union between sociolinguistics and geopolitical interests in multilingual, culturally divided hotspots — a phenomenon she will be able to observe firsthand in Cyprus.