Posted: Monday, May 2, 2016

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Two graduating Transylvania University seniors will head abroad this fall after being awarded highly competitive Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grants. Samantha Easterling from Wilmore, Ky., will go to Macedonia, and Courtney Smith from Batavia, Ohio, will travel to the Slovak Republic.

Since 1997, 23 Transylvania students have been awarded Fulbright ETA grants. Through the program, the pair will serve as a resource for conversation, vocabulary and reading and writing courses at an assigned school.

Easterling, a teaching art major, plans to facilitate a photography project where students in Macedonia and eastern Kentucky will compare the mountain cultures of both areas. She was a Morrison Scholarship recipient at Transylvania and was awarded a 2015 Kenan-Jones Summer Research Grant, which she used to conduct a photo-ethnographical study of modern-day pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. She walked the 490-mile Camino interviewing and photographing other walkers. She exhibited the project in the Susan Shearer Student Art Gallery last fall. 

Smith studied in Poland and Ukraine and participated in a service trip to Guatemala. She was captain of the volleyball team and earned a certification as a Teacher of English of Students of Other Languages. A psychology major, Smith wants to create a joint blog between her Slovakian students and students from her Ohio high school and teach weekly volleyball clinics. “I look forward to representing Transylvania and the United States in the best light possible while abroad, and I can’t wait to see where this new adventure takes me,” Smith said. “I feel more than ready to take on the real world and begin my career in international education.”

“Samantha’s communication and teaching skills—developed from student teaching, mentoring young people and working with non-English speakers—will make her an effective teaching assistant,” said Kathy Simon, Transylvania director of study abroad. “And Courtney’s positive spirit of intercultural cooperation and collaboration, combined with her expertise as a volleyball player, will endear her to her Slovak students.”