This year, the Modern and Classical Languages Department is hosting four Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Award recipients as well as one exchange student from St. Thomas’ partner university in Germany, the University of Trier. Elena Sottilotta is from Italy, Lily Semo from France, and Melanie Uyarte and Agustina Yapura are both from Argentina. Rena Von Essen is the visiting exchange student.

Elena Sottilotta (Italy), Melanie Uyarte and Agustina Yapura (Argentina), Lily Semo (France) and Rena Von Essen (Germany)

The FLTA students serve as teaching assistants in their respective native languages and take courses at St. Thomas to further their own education. While they are in the United States, they will share their language and culture with the St. Thomas community and beyond in an effort to inspire students to travel, study abroad and encourage global citizenship. In an increasingly interconnected world, FLTAs will help better prepare students to engage with international businesses, organizations and even governments.

Recipients of the FLTA grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement and demonstrated leadership potential. There are about 400 young educators from 50 countries scattered throughout the U.S. this year through the FLTA program to help internationalize American colleges and universities. Their language and cultural contributions are immensely important to many institutions, as they prepare students for 21st century careers in a globalizing world.

The principle source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation of funds by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of States. This funding also provides opportunities for American students to study abroad as well. Participating governments, universities, corporations and foundations, domestic and foreign, provide support as well.

The program with the University of Trier has been in place since 1975, and is the University of Trier’s longest-standing exchange partnership. As a participant in the program, Von Essen serves as a teaching assistant and works closely with German faculty to provide practical language and cultural experience to German students. She also helps out by sitting in on each German class once a week, providing language tutoring and leading the German Club.

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