A St. Scholastica student has won a grant from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and will spend several months helping teach English in Colombia.
Laura Blasena, who will complete her bachelor's degree in elementary education in May, will be working as a teaching assistant in a Colombian teacher's college.
"I've been given an opportunity that not many people get to experience," Blasena said. "I now have a responsibility to be a cultural ambassador as well. Part of the program gives me the opportunity to learn, but the other part of the program is about what I can give back to the community."
Blasena will spend her time helping out in classes and running English discussion groups and conversation clubs.
As part of her Fulbright grant application, she proposed a community outreach program to teach English to children. It's how she will spend her time when she's not in the classroom.
"English is the biggest foreign language taught in Colombia. Not a lot of people speak it there," she said.
She's most interested to learn more about a different country's educational system.
"I've never experienced school in another country," Blasena said. "It'll be a very big difference. I'm most looking forward to seeing what it's like in a school in another country, and talking to others with a completely different approach to education."
She'll travel to Colombia this fall and spend the next academic year there. She's traveled before to London, Mexico and Guatamala, but this will be the longest international trip for the Minnesota native, who grew up in Mahtomedi.
Blasena also is just a few credits away from completing her bachelor's degree in Spanish education. Eventually she hopes to earn her master's degree in English as a Second Language, and work with young children.
"I really like language and working as a teacher," said Blasena, who is currently enjoying student teaching at Duluth Edison Charter School North Star Academy. "It's really fun working with kids."
With a goal of promoting mutual understanding among nations, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for English Teaching Assistant Programs. Grants cover transportation to the host country along with room and board. Students are selected for the award based on the quality of their proposal, academic/professional record, and personal qualifications, among other considerations.