May 14, 2009
WOOSTER, Ohio - College of Wooster graduates Michelle Ort and Elysia Tonti will spend the coming year teaching abroad after being selected as Fulbright Scholars. Ort, a self-designed linguistics and language learning major with a minor in mathematics, will travel to Russia to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Tonti, a double major in German studies and international relations, will head for Germany, where she, too, will be an English Teaching Assistant.
Ort, a resident of Indianapolis, will be in the city of Ukhta, which is about 600 miles northeast of Moscow in the Komi Republic, where she is hoping to become involved with either sex education or environmental preservation. She will also be required to do several hours of community service each week.
"I am excited to have an opportunity to live and work abroad after graduation," said Ort, who graduated summa cum laude and earned honors on her Senior Independent Study project ("The Love that Dared not Speak its Name: Talking about Sexual Minorities in French, German, and Russian"). "I hope to better my Russian language skills, learn to cook Russian food, and befriend people who will show me the sights of the Russian north. I am also looking forward to learning more about Russian life and culture outside of the capital."
While at Wooster, Ort took classes in French, German, and Russian, and studied abroad in Moscow and France. She began tutoring for the French department in her second semester at Wooster and worked with at least two students each semester from the French, German, and Russian departments. She also received a National Merit Scholarship and an Academic Achievement Award.
Tonti, a resident of McMurray, Pa., will be teaching English at a Gymnasium (German high school). "I am both excited and honored to have been given the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for my country," said Tonti, who graduated magna cum laude and earned honors on her Senior Independent Study project, which examined the notion of coming to terms with the past in Germany through the analysis of history textbooks. "As an English Teaching Assistant, I will have the chance to shape attitudes and impressions about the United States through my behavior. I look forward to representing my country in a positive way and fostering cross-cultural understanding between the German and American cultures. I also look forward to immersing myself in the German culture and further developing my language skills."
While at Wooster, Tonti worked as the international relations program assistant, a resident assistant, and a German tutor. She also was a teaching apprentice for two courses and an active member of the Moot Court team, serving as co-captain this past year and placing among the top 15 individual orators at the national tournament. After the season, she received the John D. Fackler Award as the school's top debater. She was also honored with the William L. Schreiber Scholarship for proficiency in German studies in 2007. In addition, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest academic honor society, as well as Phi Sigma Iota foreign language honor society, and she was named to the Dean's List every semester of her collegiate career.
The Fulbright Program is the premiere international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Established in 1946, it is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." During the past 63 years, the program has provided almost 300,000 participants - chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential - with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
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