Lydia Sinclair, who will receive a BA in Spanish from the University of Iowa this May, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Spain for 2019-20
Hometown: Urbandale, IA
Award: 2019-20 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Spain
Degree: BA Spanish, Secondary Spanish Teaching License, ESL Endorsement
What drew you to this field of study?
I started learning Spanish in middle school and immediately knew I wanted to become fluent. I loved the idea of being able to communicate with such a large number of people in the U.S. and around the world. From my experience learning Spanish, I became very interested in languages and how they reflect different cultures and perspectives. I decided to become a language teacher to share this passion with my students and help them develop the skills they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.
How do you envision this will influence your future career?
After Fulbright, I hope to teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in a public school, although I am still deciding which age group I want to work with. I believe this opportunity to teach English in Spain will better prepare me for the challenges of teaching ESL, including working with students of different backgrounds and creating instruction that meets their specific needs and interests. My placement is in the autonomous community of Galicia where schools teach Spanish, English, and Galician through subjects like science and social studies. I am excited to learn new strategies for integrating language into content instruction so that I can better support English language learners in their mainstream classes when I return to the U.S., and I am also looking forward to improving my Spanish so that I can better connect with my Spanish-speaking students and their families.
What experiences at the UI inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
I had an incredible experience studying abroad for a semester in San Sebastián, Spain. Learning about the Basque Country and its unique history, language, and culture opened my eyes to the diversity within Spain and led me to develop an interest in Galicia.
My advice for other students would be to take advantage of all the international and cultural opportunities the University of Iowa has to offer. My time as an undergrad was made so much more valuable by joining Iowa's Andhi South Asian fusion dance team and Global Buddies. There are so many great organizations and on-campus events to participate in where you can learn a lot about other people and cultures, including your own. I would also recommend getting involved tutoring English to immigrants and refugees around campus. My experience volunteering for Iowa City Compassion allowed me to practice my teaching skills while forming friendships with people in the community.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
I would like to thank my amazing recommenders Dr. Pam Wesely, Dr. Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, and Christa Kirsch-Paulson for all the time and effort they spent helping me achieve this goal. I would also like to thank Dr. Karen Wachsmuth, Marie Synofzick, and everyone in the International Programs office who guided me through the long application process. I am forever grateful to my parents, Kaj and Lisa Sinclair, for their constant love and support. Finally, I want to thank Señor Hollingsworth, my Spanish teacher at Johnston High School, who encouraged me to go on the school trip to Spain, after which I decided to pursue Spanish in college (and become a world traveler).
Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance. Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).