UI alumna awarded Fulbright to teach English in Mongolia

Gloria Wenman, of Iowa City, IA, has been awarded a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award for an English Teaching Assistantship to Mongolia. Wenman is currently pursuing a graduate teaching certificate from the University of Iowa. She also holds an M.S. in urban and regional, with her focus on environmental planning, from the UI, a M.P.A. in public administration with a focus on health and human services from Upper Iowa University, and a B.A. in psychology and creative writing from the UI.


Gloria Wenman will travel to Mongolia to work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) on a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant.

Her extensive experience abroad and in a multitude of counseling, mentorship, and teaching roles will be greatly beneficial to her work with students in Mongolia. As a member of the United States Army, Wenman spent two years stationed in Egypt and worked with members of 13 allied countries including Fiji, Colombia, Hungary, Egypt, and Israel — many of whom had no English speaking experience.

"This was overcome with translators and eventually within a pidgin of combined languages. Through  this experience, I also learned methods for overcoming cultural barriers to learning."

She has also taught resiliency skills to U.S. military members to help them gain an understanding of barriers to flexibility in life and relationships. 

"As an Army non-commissioned officer who has lived abroad, I am resilient and adaptable. I enjoy service and working with other cultures," Wenman said.

Wenman says her teaching focus will be on addressing the individual learning needs of students, engaging them in conversations about American culture and idiomatic expressions used in everyday language. Her students will also visit Mongolian cultural sites to encourage conversations that will bridge gaps between the cultures.

"Helping others in their speech and understanding of American culture seems a natural extension of my experiences. Helping in Mongolia, in particular, enables me to use my knowledge of environmental impact of growing urban areas to help alleviate negative outcomes such as air and water pollution."

Wenman plans to engage with the host country as a volunteer- training at the grass-roots level with local non-government agencies, universities and community centers such as the Mongolian Association for the Conservation of Nature and Environment. With her background in environmental planning, she hopes to start a club to address public health concerns involving pollution and promote solutions. She is especially interested in Mongolia's ongoing transition from a nomadic to an urban culture.

"(Mongolia) has gone through many political changes, yet retained its unique heritage and nomadic culture," Wenman said.

During her graduate program in urban and regional planning, Wenman became close friends with a Mongolian Fulbright recipient, Tuya Zorig who first introduced her to Mongolian culture.

Zorig is now an urban planner in Mongolia. Wenman believes she will make a difference in the country with her teaching experience, which includes working with people like Zorig to understand the English language and American culture.

"l have dedicated my life to helping others because of what I learned early in life. Helping others, learning new information, and enjoying nature are strong tenets of my life."

Upon returning to the U.S., Wenman will continue teaching environmental planning and management at the university level and English tutoring within her community.

Gloria is one of 13 Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant winners from the University of Iowa for 2015-16. See the full list of winners. 
The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For more information on applying for a Fulbright through the University of Iowa, visit our Fulbright page.

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