After earning a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award (ETA) for the 2021-2022 academic year, Olivia Gorrell, (B.M. '22, piano and German major) packed her bags, boarded an international flight, and headed to Plauen, Saxony, in Germany, where she teaches English while serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.
The ETA to Germany provides help to local English teachers by placing applicants in classrooms of all ages and in a variety of geographical settings. The applicants not only help teach the English language but also serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States.
"The German culture is very different when it comes to social skills and interacting with people both older and younger, says Gorrell, but people here have been extremely understanding and helpful."
Gorrell graduated with a Bachelor's of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Secondary Major in German. She was president of Baylor's chapter of Delta Phi Alpha (National German Honorary Society) and the Baylor University Deutsch Klub, while also serving as the Modern Language Department's German tutor.
"My favorite part of this journey so far has been using all the German I learned at Baylor, but at the same time it's a constant learning process because I realize I have so much more I need to learn," Gorrell said. "It's been humbling to be in a country where I don't speak the language fluently, and I'm learning that being pushed out of one's comfort zone is both difficult and beneficial at the same time."
Gorrell developed a love of German culture and language after living in Germany for several years as a child, and this love eventually pushed her to apply for a Fulbright award in order to return and give back to the people who shaped her childhood and left a lasting impact on her life. Because she loves the ETA program so much, she encourages Baylor students to apply.
"If they can get the opportunity to travel abroad, I highly recommend doing it," says Gorrell. "It's such an eye-opening experience because it gives you a greater appreciation for the world around you: there are so many different ways of life than what we experience in the U.S., and it's always worth growing one's perspective and learning to understand other people."
After a year in Saxony with the ETA program, Gorrell plans to attend Michigan State University and earn a Master's in Germanic Studies and Collaborative Piano.