UI student awarded Fulbright to teach English in Colombia

Megan Wood

Megan Wood, a M.A. candidate in Spanish and linguistics at the UI, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to Colombia for 2016-17.

Megan Wood, an M.A. candidate in Spanish and linguistics at the UI, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to Colombia for 2016-17. Megan plans to work with the country’s large population of internally displaced indigenous civilians. The Webster City, Iowa, native has previously collaborated with UI Fulbright grantee and 2015-16 English Teaching Assistant Sarah Mayer in Barranquilla to facilitate a social media exchange between students at the University of Iowa and la Universidad Simón Bolívar.  Megan plans to use this program as a base for her film club project, where she will organize film showings and facilitate discussions between Colombian and American university students through Facebook.

Hometown: Webster City, IA

Degree and field of study: B.A. in Spanish and international studies with an emphasis in human rights (University of Iowa), M.A. candidate in Spanish with an emphasis in linguistics (University of Iowa).

What will be the focus of your teaching?

I will be an English Teaching Assistant in Colombia. Part of my focus will, therefore, be teaching university students English. My other focus is to immerse myself in my community. I hope to advocate for the large number of internally displaced citizens in Colombia, and I also hope to coach various sports to children in the community.

What drew you to this field of study?

A wise professor once told me to pursue what I am passionate about, without worrying so much about whether it would make me a lot of money or not. At the time, that passion was Spanish and sociology. So I ran with it. Spanish opened up a whole world of interactions with people who have had a very strong impact on my life. Sociology (which later evolved into international studies) made me passionate about working to combat the inequality and oppression that is so prevalent in our world. 

How do you see this Fulbright grant advancing your work?

The Fulbright grant allows me to turn my wishing into doing. I have always been passionate about human rights and combating inequality, but I haven’t been able to find a hands-on way to make a difference. This grant gives me that opportunity.

How do you envision this will change your life?

Every time I travel I have experiences that change my life. I meet people who I connect with on a deeper level, and I learn to see the world through a different lens. I don’t anticipate this experience to be any different.

Would you have any advice for future students interested in pursuing a Fulbright?

Karen Wachsmuth is your best resource, and you should consult her right away. You should go to all of the workshops and events she holds, even if you’re tired and don’t feel like it. Finally, I haven’t ever been a big draft-writer. I normally procrastinate my papers until the very last moment and it usually works out for me. But I am confident that in this process you must not procrastinate. After approximately 17 drafts, I finally got my essays where they needed to be. Even if I hadn’t received the Fulbright, this was a very enlightening experience about who I am and where I want to go with my life, and I am very grateful for the process. 

The highly competitive Fulbright Program, created by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, provides grants annually for international research and teaching in an effort to foster global partnership and cultural exchange. For more information on applying for a Fulbright through the University of Iowa, visit our Fulbright page.

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