Elizabeth Prisley of Tampa, Fla., who will receive her master of arts in English this May from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

As a Fulbright scholar, Prisley will teach English to high school students in the German state of Hessen beginning in September 2010 and ending June 30, 2011. Prisley will be teaching conversational skills as well as American and British literature with discussion groups on politics, religion, geography, family life, sports, and general culture. The grant pays for Prisley’s travel and provides a stipend to cover living expenses while abroad.

A leader of several Virginia Tech student organizations, Prisley served as president of the German Culture Club where she worked with other students to bring German language and culture into the broader community. She volunteered with the Cranwell International Center, where she helped to organize social events and expos designed to foster relations among and between students and community members. Prisley was also president of the English graduate students where she planned events and coordinated the annual student conference, led fundraising efforts, and managed the budget.

“Liz is fluent in German and already has first-hand knowledge of German culture through study abroad experiences in Münster and Bonn,” said Debra Stoudt, co-coordinator of the German program at Virginia Tech and associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “As a graduate teaching assistant in English, she has honed practical classroom skills. Her volunteer work at the Cranwell International Center provides evidence of her outgoing nature and her curiosity about other cultures.”

In addition to being an exceptional student, Prisley worked as a teaching assistant in freshman composition at Virginia Tech, where she developed a “philosophy of pedagogy based on confidence in the ability to learn, both by student and teacher.” Prisley also notes that “active participation in the learning process by both parties is essential.”

"Fostering leadership, learning and empathy between cultures was and remains the purpose of the international scholarship program," noted Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright, the founder of the program that was established in 1946 by Congress. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, it is this nation’s largest international exchange program.

“Throughout her application and in conversation it became evident that Liz exemplifies the Fulbright mission,” said Christina McIntyre, associate director of the University Honors program. “I am quite proud to have Liz represent ‘us’ as a ‘citizen ambassador’ to the citizen’s of Germany. I feel confident that she will engage in meaningful ways with the community in which she is placed.”

In addition to assisting in a classroom, Prisley must also prepare an extra-curricular activity to comply with terms of the Fulbright. “This will vary depending on the kind of school I'm placed in, but I'm developing a few ideas about sponsoring a reading group much like a book club in conjunction with a conversation group,” said Prisley.

Upon completion of the Fulbright grant, Prisley says she plans to continue to work in education or as a grant writer for non-profits. Prisley received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida with a double major in English and German. She also studied at the University of Bonn in Germany, where she worked with both international and German students to improve their written and spoken English.