We recently caught up with Inly alumnus, Hannah Kaplan-Hartlaub ‘07, who is graduating from Smith College this May. Kaplan-Hartlaub, a Sociology and Spanish double major, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Spain, where she will spend next year teaching English at a high school in Madrid. While not teaching, she will also help coach the high school’s Model United Nations team and conduct an independent community service project through the network of community gardens in Madrid. “ I’ll be working with the Urban Garden Network of Madrid to do an independent community service project,” Kaplan-Hartlaub said, “which marries my interests in experiential learning, community-building, and playing in the dirt—all things I can I trace back to my time at Inly School.”
Hannah’s love of the Spanish language prompted her to study abroad last year at the University of Cordoba and also inspired her to pursue the Fulbright program in Spain after graduation. Fulbright grantees are selected through an open and merit-based competition. This ensures that the most qualified applicants are fairly chosen in a way that contributes to the main goals of the program: to provide overseas experience to individuals not previously afforded such an opportunity and to promote mutual understanding and benefit through contributions to both host and home communities.
From its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETA’s help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.
When asked about her goals for the program, Kaplan-Hartlaub said,
“Primarily, I aim to teach English for student use with cross-cultural engagement and perspective—in other words, to afford my students the opportunity to explore the world with the facility that English makes possible. I’m also eager to explore the country further and contribute through community service. I hope my volunteering in urban gardens will foster tighter neighborhood community and local connection to the earth, and to begin a dialogue around urban agricultural practices and food culture. This would further my goal of having a true exchange of knowledge and culture with the Madrileña community.”
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program is sponsored and managed by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Fulbright ETAs are placed in classrooms abroad to assist in strengthening English language instruction, while providing insights on American culture. At the same time, U.S. participants experience intensive cross-cultural interaction in an international educational setting.
Kaplan-Hartlaub reflected that her Inly roots in education “drew out the spirit of exploration” within her:
“While my years at Commonwealth School and then Smith contributed greatly [to this spirit] as well,” she observed, “I always consider Inly to have planted the seed of curiosity. From a young age we worked with teachers and with each other to cultivate our passions, and though the sowing was challenging, the harvest was fruitful and will fortify me during the coming adventures….I hope the Fellowship will allow me to connect further with students and teachers in a new academic setting, and would provide a cross-cultural comparison to inform my interpretations of educational policies in the States upon my return.”