Josh Valdez, an aspiring international human rights lawyer with a special interest in Russia, will have the opportunity to travel to the country as an English Teaching Assistant in the 2016-17 academic year through the prestigious Fulbright Program.
As an undergraduate, Valdez has discovered and developed a passion for making a difference by teaching foreign languages and helping to bridge gaps between foreign nations and the United States. Valdez said he views the Fulbright as an excellent opportunity to act as an ambassador between America and Russia.
This will be Valdez’s first trip to Russia. He has previously studied abroad at L’Institut Catholique de Paris France, studying French. Valdez is a French and Russian major set to graduate in May, and is looking forward to more fully learning the language during his time abroad.
“The only way to truly learn a language is to be immersed in it,” he said.
Valdez has taught French, Spanish, Russian and German. He works at Sartoga Elementary School in Lincoln, instructing through language clubs. He is also an intern at Sandhills Publishing, where he is a French translator. In Russia, he said hopes to use this experience to host English table discussions for anyone interested in improving their English while sharing their culture.
“Communication is the easiest way to foster education and understanding,” he said.
Upon his return to the United States, Valdez plans to pursue a degree in international human rights law with an emphasis on Russian culture. He said he hopes to use this degree to work for the government to foster relations between Russia and the United States. He said he also wishes to support the education of critical languages such as Russian to young students in the United States.
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 Valdez are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.