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Northwestern College senior Anastasia Pederson awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Northwestern College senior Anastasia Pederson awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Northwestern senior Anastasia Pederson '13 accepted the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Scholarship in April, appointment to teach high school students in Levice, Slovakia. The tenth awardee in Northwestern's Fulbright legacy, Pederson crowns a decade of excellence overseas.

U.S. Fulbright scholars represent the nation's largest international exchange program, sponsored by the Department of State. The ETA program is a natural next step for Pederson, who will graduate in May with a B.A. in ESL Education and an Intercultural Studies (ICS) minor, then begin her assistantship in Slovakia on August 24. Pederson remembers a 2010 tour abroad with Northwestern's ICS program as a catalyst for international interest and her Fulbright pursuit.

"It was a desire for the unknown," said Pederson, "Eastern Europe is an area of the world I don't know a lot about, and so it was kind of for my own desire to learn and to experience a new way of life."

Beyond personal enjoyment, Pederson sees purpose in using linguistics to make meaningful cross-cultural connections. She referred to wisdom from her professor, Dr. Feng Ling Johnson, who taught how the language failure leads to loss of identity:

"If you're not able to communicate in a language when you're surrounded by a different language, you lose yourself in a way," explained Pederson, "So how do you cross those cultural barriers of language to help people find their identity again and be able to express themselves so that they're heard and that they're seen and that they're known."

Pederson saw the lasting effect of saying hello to her ESL students in their native language, and taking time to ask about their lives as she student taught this spring at a Twin Cities high school. Even with her experience, Pederson recognizes the new challenge of teaching in Slovakia.

"Teaching is always a humbling experience," she said, "You realize there's always a huge learning curve, just trying to remember you're never going to be a perfect teacher, but aiming to be a perfect teacher."

Pederson, 21, is from Buffalo, MN and will be spending a month in Norway with relatives prior to her appointment in Slovakia. Northwestern's 2012 Fulbright Scholar, Charissa Doebler '12 , is just finishing her appointment in Taiwan and has documented her journey on her blog, A Sojourner's Saga.

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