Claire Cai '21 Receives Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
The German studies and economics double major will spend next year in Germany immersing herself in international dialogue and strengthening her teaching skills.
As a third-year teaching assistant at Haverford, Claire Cai ’21 helps facilitate the German-language skills of students in an American college classroom. Next year, she will once again be a teaching assistant, but with a different perspective: working with German students on their English-language skills as the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award.
The German studies and economics double major was inspired to apply to the Fulbright both as a way to strengthen her pedagogy skills in anticipation of an eventual Ph.D. program and possible career as an educator, and after learning of its Diversity Program, in which ETAs are placed in German schools with predominantly refugee or migrant student populations.
“As a woman of color whose parents are immigrants to the United States, I deeply empathize with some of the struggles that migrants to Germany experience,” said Cai. “I hope that as an ETA who is a woman of color, I can show my students that they, too, belong in Germany and can master the German language.”
Cai has long been an advocate for refugees and migrants, and she said that if she doesn’t eventually pursue graduate school for German studies or education, she’d like to work at a nonprofit that does refugee advocacy. Her senior thesis is even centered on quantifying the economic, social, and linguistic benefits for adult refugees who complete an integration course administered by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
The English Teaching Assistant Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. Though Cai has yet to find out exactly where in Germany she’ll be living or at which school she’ll be placed, she is already looking forward to returning to the country where she studied abroad.
She plans to volunteer with Berlin’s Flüchtlingsrat, a “Refugee Council” that works to improve living conditions and defend rights of refugees, or, if she’s not placed in or near Berlin, she’d like to volunteer with a similar organization dedicated to helping refugees and migrants.
“I’m also interested in joining local sports clubs, “ she said. “When I studied abroad in Berlin during spring 2020, I fenced at the Charlottenburger Fecht Club, and I’m curious about Germany’s cricket scene. Athletics would be another great way to engage with Germans while practicing the language in real-time.”