AUSTIN – A local college graduate was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and will be flying to Latvia on Monday to start a yearlong teaching program.
Kristen Carlson, of Austin, will be an English teaching assistant at Jazeps Vitols Latvian Music Academy and Riga Teika Secondary School in Riga, the country’s capital.
One of more than 1,900 U.S. citizens that will be a part of the global Fulbright program for the 2018-19 school year, she will be working with students in areas including writing, public speaking and career development
After graduating from Luther College in May with a triple major in communication studies, music and philosophy, she is looking forward to combining all three of those areas during her time teaching and learning about the way of life in Latvia and around Europe.
“I think education is a path where we can learn more about each other,” Carlson said. “So, the Fulbright program really prides itself and pushes the teachers to go out with this idea of cultural understanding. I think (these international opportunities) are important so that we widen our scope of how education works around the world.”
She is excited to not only see how their education system varies, but also to learn and connect with the students and community as a whole, especially in such a diverse political and cultural climate.
“They’re really a melting pot coming out of the post-Soviet culture of the 1990s,” she said. “I’m really eager to get over there and learn not only who they are as they continue to form their identity as a nation, but also what things are important to them.
“Especially in this day and age we feel more globally connected through media and all sorts of outlets, but at the same time there’s nothing that can beat just getting to now someone face-to-face in the grass roots levels of interaction.”
Once the year abroad is over, she said she is planning to pursue a Ph.D. program at the University of Minnesota and bring what she learns during this international experience back home.
“I think going out and having some world experience and meeting people from different areas will make you grow as a person, and developing career interests is always going to help you bring it back home,” Carlson said. “It’s important to share your perspective, because all the sudden you’ve seen a whole different experience.”