University of Iowa

Heading a long way from Dubuque

June 29th, 2016
Amanda Kloser

Amanda Kloser, a UI graduate with a M.A.T. in Secondary Education: English, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to Turkey for 2016-17

By Ana Barrett, The Daily Iowan

Amanda Kloser was born and raised in Dubuque, and she had no plans of leaving. It was not until a year and a half ago that the idea of moving away from her friends and family to a foreign country crossed her mind.

“I always thought I would teach in Iowa,” Kloser said. “Moving abroad or teaching internationally was never part of my plan.”

Now however, Kloser will move to Turkey as a Fulbright recipient.

The Fulbright is an extremely competitive program in which students are awarded scholarships to work abroad for a year.

When Kloser was in the middle of getting an M.A.T. in secondary education: English at the University of Iowa, one of her professors recommended her to International Programs as a Fulbright candidate.

UI English Professor Phillip Round, who was a vital resource in Kloser’s success, said he recognizes a combination of characteristics when recommending students for the Fulbright.

“As a two-time Fulbrighter myself, I know what skills and characteristics Fulbright recipients need to be successful in their application process,” he said. “It’s a combination of scholarly achievements, ability to represent the United States well while abroad, and they need to be flexible enough to deal with life overseas.”

Kloser said she was stunned when she was notified that she had won the Fulbright.

“I couldn’t believe it, mostly because the application is so long and the competition is very fierce,” she said. “You have a lot of people applying from all over the country, all who are very highly qualified with résumés that are compelling.”

Kloser chose to apply to go to Turkey because she says the geographic location between Europe and Asia makes it a very interesting place.

“Both cultures are very dominant, and my undergraduate degree was anthropology, so I thought being in Turkey for nine months would be fascinating,” she said.

In addition to teaching English to Turkish students, Kloser will be involved with the Scouting and Guiding Federation of Turkey troop.  The group is similar to Girl Scouts of America.

“I hope to work with elementary-school age girls with whatever I can within the cultural context,” she said.  “I hope to teach them moral values, confidence, leadership abilities, and so on.”

Kloser noted she does not want to impose Western values on the students but rather try to instill the skills and confidence that students will need to succeed academically and personally.

The help she got from UI staff, particularly Fulbright Program adviser Karen Wachsmuth, was a big help, she said.

“Karen went over my drafts countless times,” Kloser said. “I could not have done it without her.”

Round said he has seen Waschsmuth recruit and promote students from the UI as well as all over Iowa.

In an earlier statement about this year’s Fulbright students, Waschsmuth said she is excited to see the UI’s national rankings rise among other leading institutions that also traditionally have many Fulbright students.

“Never underestimate where you come from and where you can go,” she said in the statement. “If you get after it and put the work in, anything can become a reality. Don’t let your expectations of yourself limit what you can accomplish.”

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