Rebecca Suzuki and Claire Dinh Selected for Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grants
The seniors are committed to learning more about the country's healthcare system during their time teaching English in Germany.
Seniors Rebecca Suzuki and Claire Dinh have lived in Germany before. Suzuki spent her semester abroad in Berlin, and Dinh took classes at the international school at Freie Universität the summer before her junior year. But they are thrilled to be heading back this fall as recipients of Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Grants.
The ETA Program places Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad where they help teach the English language and serve as cultural ambassadors for America. The Fulbright Program funds round-trip transportation to Europe, room and board and incidental costs, and health insurance for recipients for the year. Though neither Suzuki nor Dinh have received their specific teaching placements yet, they know they will be spending the next academic year teaching English in primary or secondary schools somewhere in Germany. (Suzuki has heard that she will be living somewhere in the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.) Additionally, the Fords are two of just 20 German Fulbright ETA recipients chosen for a special "Diversity Group," in which teachers are placed in schools where they can work closely with immigrant and/or minority student populations.
"I started taking German in the ninth grade and didn’t expect to fall in love with the language," says Suzuki, a psychology major and German minor. "Yet through German studies I have been able to explore topics of displacement, identity, and culture that have become main interests of mine throughout my college career and in my life in general. In addition, as a karate instructor, I have found a profound love of teaching, and wish to continue exploring this passion in other topics."
Suzuki, who aims to return to the States to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology after her ETA, is currently studying racial identity in multiracial young adults for her senior thesis. Her topic was inspired by her own multiracial background—she is the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Japanese father—so she is looking forward to exploring cultural identity issues in Germany.
"During the fall of my junior year, studying in Berlin, I saw first-hand the continuous struggle to create a proud German identity following the horrors of World War II and the turbulence of reunification," she says, "[as well as] the tensions as this identity must be remade to reflect the increasing multiculturalism of the country. I realized, more than ever before, that identity struggles are both unique and universal, and as I developed my idea for my thesis, these discoveries were in the forefront of my mind."
Suzuki, who currently works in psychology labs at both Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Drexel University, is also interested in learning more about the German healthcare system, particularly as it relates to access and treatment for mental health issues and how it compares to the system in place in the United States.
Dinh is also driven by an interest in healthcare access. The German and German studies major is in the inaugural class of Haverford's 4+1 bioethics program at the University of Pennsylvania, from which she will earn a master's degree with an additional year of study at Penn after she returns from Germany.
The summer before coming to college, Dinh, the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, worked as a medical and dental assistant in her mother's former Los Angeles neighborhood, where roughly 20 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Seeing patients without the resources for quality healthcare was heartbreaking for her, but also inspirational. Her work that summer has defined her career trajectory since.
"At that time, I promised myself that I would spend the rest of my life helping reshape the American healthcare system," she says. "I know my career interests are many—to become a medical professor, so that I may teach, see patients, and conduct research. But ultimately, what I would love to do is contribute to healthcare reform, by looking to the German healthcare system as a model for the American one."
So in addition to her work teaching English, Dinh hopes to carve out time while abroad to meet with healthcare policymakers and medical professionals to learn more about the inner workings of the German healthcare system and, perhaps, even take university classes on the subject.
Dinh was also selected for the highly competitive Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, a different, yearlong fellowship in Germany. (She was one of only 75 fellows selected from 700 applicants.) Though torn between the two exceptional opportunities, she ultimately decided to accept the Fulbright because it would allow her more flexibility to pursue her healthcare interests and take up unexpected opportunities as they come, as well as offer her the chance to inspire others.
"I have had some of the best teachers and life mentors during my time at Haverford," says Dinh, "and I hope that with my students in Germany, I may instill the same love for learning that my own teachers and mentors have instilled in me."