Austin Barkley '15
Hispanic Studies Major
Fulbright Teaching Assistant
Hispanic Studies major, Austin Barkley, will be setting off for a 10-month Fulbright teaching assignment in Mexico starting in September.
Austin related some of his hopes and plans for the coming year.
"I hope to be at a University teaching English to teachers in training. I'll be a teaching assistant, meaning I'll be helping professors in class as well as forming discussion groups and leading activities to help my students apply their English skills to real-life situations.
I also hope to get involved in whichever community I'm in. I was lucky to be able to do this during my study abroad experiences in Chile and Spain. I hope to get involved playing a sport (likely basketball), either coaching or playing. I also hope to do some research on a business or policy issue in Mexico. I'm thinking about diving deeper into Mexican social policy, which was the topic of my capstone project. If research isn't possible, I hope to take some classes at the University to learn, work on my Spanish abilities, and to get to know/work collaboratively with Mexican students. I also hope to have enough free time to take opportunities as they come, whether it be volunteer work, travel, or relaxing with new friends, I want to be able to be a fully engaged member of my community.
As a Fulbright grantee, I'm considered a sort of "cultural ambassador" between the US and Mexico. Because of this, I don't view my time as service work or strictly as a teacher; I'm going there to learn as much as I'm going to teach. My ultimate goal is to lower the cultural barrier between Americans and Mexicans. I hoping to do this by forming friendships and by sharing what I can with the people there. I imagine I'll leave having learned more from them as they have from me.
I became interested in this program because I had a strong interest in another adventure abroad. I also wanted to continue working on my Spanish language ability; after putting in a lot of effort to get them to a high level, I wanted to continue investing in this skill. I also saw that Mexico and the United States are so interconnected economically, politically, and socially. By living there for a year, I knew I would be better able to understand the current and future problems that come with integrating our two cultures. With some luck, I hope to be in a place in the future where I can combine my career experience, cultural knowledge, and Spanish ability to help bring us together."
A full feature on Austin's Fulbright in Mexico can be found on the CSB/SJU website here.