More than 65 attendees from 28 different countries will gather at Notre Dame this weekend for the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants (FLTA) orientation. This is Notre Dame’s 11th year hosting the event.
The Fulbright FLTA program gives fellowships to academically accomplished graduate students providing them with the opportunity to teach their native language and study at various U.S. universities. It is managed by the Institute for International Education and the U.S. State Department with the Center for the Study of Languages and Cultures (CSLC) at Notre Dame as a co-sponsor and facilitator.
This year’s orientation will begin on August 6 when various buses will wait to greet the FLTAs after their flights and then take them back to Notre Dame. A buffet supper will be provided at Ryan Hall, the dorm where the FLTAs will be residing for the five days.
Over the next four days various events and break-out sessions will commence, covering topics such as the American higher education system, language teaching methods, diversity on campus, course planning, various aspects of American culture and more.
Brian O’Conchubhair, director of the CSLC, said the experience of having an FLTA in the classroom is mutualistic because the FLTA and student both benefit from learning each other’s cultures.
“The FLTAs can connect in a way that the faculty can’t,” O’Conchubhair said. “They bring contemporary living culture and living language to our students in a meaningful way because they’re the same age and the same interests as our students. Then they get to experience American life and they get to bring American culture and values to their own countries.”
This year Notre Dame will have 10 of their own FLTAs for the 2016-2017 school year. They are Anna Paul Cury (Brazil), Eman Mohamed Abdelsalam Mohamed Elwardany (Egypt), Daniel Fastlabend (Germany), Oksana Glazkove (Russia), Heemang Kim (South Korea), Akiyo Horiguchi (Japan), Yen-Chen Huang (Taiwan), Laureen Owaga (Kenya), Eric Munsch (France) and Siobhan Ni Mhuimhneachain (Ireland).
“Each year our FLTAs add an extra dimension to the foreign language learning experience,” Denise Ayo, assistant director of the CSLC, said. “They get our students excited not only about the language, but the culture behind it by providing firsthand experiences and memories from their home country.”
The orientation will take place at McKenna Hall and will conclude on Wednesday, August 10 when buses will take the FLTAs back to O’Hare to fly to their respective universities. O’Conchubhair said Notre Dame hosting this event is special because for many of the FLTAs it will be their first time being in America.
“Their first introduction to America will be Notre Dame,” O’Conchubhair said. “They’ll wake up on Sunday morning and their first image of America will be the golden dome and that’ll leave an indelible mark.”