When Alyx Dodds Garner was four, she developed an interest in the German language and culture when her father was stationed at the Noervelich Airforce Base in Germany for three years. In August, Dodds Garner of Wichita, Kan., is traveling back to Germany as a Fulbright Scholar
The German and economics major, who graduates in May, will teach English at a middle school while in Germany. She looks forward to helping the students improve their understanding of the English language, both written and spoken.
“I won’t find out exactly where I will be teaching in Germany until late June. My husband, Michael, and I leave the second week of August and I am really excited to share my love of learning and languages with students,” she said.
Garner Dodds is one of more than 30 scholars who have been named Fulbright Scholars at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 2001. The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the U.S. and other countries. The program provides the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 155 countries. About 8,000 grants are awarded annually and about 1,600 of those grants are awarded to U.S. students.
“When my father was stationed in Germany, I didn’t have much interaction with the German language, as only Americans were stationed at the base. I also attended American school. We took trips off the base though and I became very interested in the language and culture,” Garner Dodds said.
In the summer of 2009, she interned for a small business that sells photo wallpapers and canvas prints in small town outside of Frankfurt. Having co-workers who spoke little English forced Garner to improve her German speaking skills.
“I learned through hands-on experience what the real world is like. That's something that is virtually impossible to learn at a university,” she said.
Garner Dodds is excited to return to Germany to teach others what she knows. She does expect a few challenges along the way.
“I won't be sitting at a desk answering phones or translating a website. I will be doing hands-on work that will require a great amount of preparation and planning. I know that it won't be easy and that some days will probably be incredibly frustrating, but I also know that it will be one of the greatest learning experiences I ever have,” she said.
Depending on where Garner Dodds is placed in Germany, she also has a side project while there, which is a requirement of the Fulbright application. She plans to lead an economic club in a large university town or book club in a smaller town.
Priscilla Hayden-Roy, associate professor of German at UNL, encouraged Garner to apply for the Fulbright because of Garner Dodds’s intelligence, reliability and “excellent” people skills.
“I see in her all the qualities for being an excellent teaching assistant in Germany,” Hayden-Roy said. “She plunges into new situations and challenges with determination, optimism, creativity and a great sense of humor.”
After she returns, Garner Dodds will study go to graduate school for either German or economics to earn her Ph.D. Then she wants to teach at the university level.
She advises future Fulbright applicants to give themselves plenty of time to deal with the “intense” application. For Garner, the hard work she put into the application was worthwhile.
“I know it will be an amazing experience,” she said.