Three Wooster Seniors Receive Fulbright Teaching Scholarships

Lee McKinstry, Carolyn Fado, and Claire Stragand will teach English abroad in the fall

May 1, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — College of Wooster seniors Lee McKinstry, Carolyn Fado, and Claire Stragand have been chosen to receive distinguished Fulbright Teaching Assistantships, and will spend the coming year as English Teaching Assistants (ETA) overseas. McKinstry, an English major, will travel to the Czech Republic; Fado, a comparative literature major and French minor, will go to Bulgaria; and Stragand, an anthropology and German double major, will relocate in Germany.

McKinstry, who served as the editor of The Wooster Voice campus newspaper, a DJ on the College radio station (WCWS), and the founder and president of the campus poetry group “Word of Mouth,” will teach at a high school in Bohumin, Czech Republic. Her decision to apply for the program was based on her experience studying abroad in the Czech Republic during the fall semester of her junior year.

“While I was there, I had an opportunity to help teach English songs and games to a group of first graders, and it was incredibly rewarding,” said McKinstry, who hopes to write for a magazine in the future. “Fulbright ETAs are nice because they have a good mix of structure and free time — they want you to develop your own plan for a side project that can either be volunteer work, study, or creating an after-school program for the kids. Having the opportunity to do that as well as teach English was really interesting to me, and something I thought was really worthwhile.”

Fado, who has been involved with the theatre program and several environmental groups at Wooster, will travel to Gabrovo, Bulgaria, for her Fulbright teaching experience, which she hopes will help her to continue a career in education when she returns to the United States. Gabrovo is considered an international humor capital and has been rated the greenest city in Bulgaria. She said her interest in Bulgaria was sparked by some of her friends who are from the country and have made her eager to learn more.

“I'll be teaching at Aprilov National High School, which is the first modern secular school to be founded in Bulgaria, she said. “Outside of teaching, I will be working on an environmental project, depending on what would benefit the Gabrovian community. Bulgaria has a rich cultural history and a beautiful natural landscape with mountains, the Black Sea, and hot springs. I applied to the Fulbright because I want to be a part of improved relations and cultural understanding between the United States and Bulgaria.”

Stragand, who is a tutor for the German department, plans to travel the United States and Europe before she settles into a career or attends law school. During her Fulbright placement, she will serve as an American ambassador in a German secondary school where she will teach English 15 hours a week and organize extra-curricular activities. Her love for German culture and language began several years ago when her family hosted a German exchange student for two weeks.

“Never before had I confronted such barriers between myself and another person,” said Stragand. “Limited communication between the German and American students was both challenging and exhilarating. Before I knew it, I booked a ticket to Germany for my first international experience. Since the exchange, I have returned to Germany three separate times. I hope to gain confidence, develop interests of mine, and become proficient in a language I love. Overall, I look forward to a year of new adventures.”

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 an opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. The selection of McKinstry, Fado, and Stragand brings Wooster’s total number of Fulbright recipients since 2000 to 19.

- Story by Libby Fackler '13