Recent alumna Amelia Dirks, of Bloomington, Illinois, will teach at the Hellenic-American Educational Foundation, a private institution in Athens, Greece, in September as one of two alumni chosen for a Fulbright English teaching assistant grant.
Dirks said she was inspired by a Virginia Tech professor who taught English under the same grant in Germany. “The program serves others and offers the kind of teaching experience I was looking for,” she said.
Dirks requested Greece because the location offered an opportunity to work with high school students. As a Virginia Tech senior, she tutored Blacksburg High School students learning English as a second language.
Looking to Greece, she was attracted to Hellenic-American Educational Foundation’s commitment to improving English competency among its students and its emphasis on language and arts. The school also runs a forensics program similar to one at Dirks’ high school. “I look back fondly on those experiences and value the guidance I received. I hope that I can also serve as a mentor for my students,” she said.
After the teaching period, Dirks will become a camp counselor for students during the summer. “I also hope the program will help me decide what level I’d like to teach in the future,” she said. Her plans include a master’s program in English literature at Boston College, where she will be teaching first-year English courses as part of a fellowship program.
Dirks received bachelor’s degrees in both creative writing and literature and language. She participated in the London Calling! study abroad program offered by the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She is currently working on a young adult historical-science fiction novel.
The English Teaching Assistant Award is one of several offerings of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Others include study or research awards, digital storytelling fellowships, and critical language assignments. All grant opportunities are designed to encourage cultural exchange between the awardee and the host country’s community.
“For applicants considering a Fulbright, I would say to use the time to self-reflect and gain a solid understanding of what you feel and think,” Dirks said. “It will help with interviews and presenting yourself to others.”
Written by Alexa Johnson; Rommelyn Coffren contributed to this report.