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dorothy rau, turkey, 2019-2020

Fulbright Year: 2019-20
Country: Turkey
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistant
UGA Undergraduate Majors: International Affairs and Arabic
Graduation Date: Spring 2019
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia

Dorothy Rau will spend her Fulbright year teaching English to young students in Ankara, Turkey. Her idea of the ideal language curriculum includes old-school methods, a little bit of drama and a whole lot of fun.

“I have determined that language learning must be less about lexicon and more about laughter,” says Dorothy, who adds that “creativity and fearlessness exist at the center of successful outcomes in language classes.”

Several years ago, Dorothy taught English at a summer camp at Robert College in Istanbul, which is where she was able to utilize her love of theater to inform her instruction technique.

“Because my role entailed constantly interacting and entertaining diverse groups of Turkish children, I relied upon morning skits centered around a difficult or abstract English word of the day to unite my young campers,” she says. “Teaching vocabulary and phrases through performance establishes a foundation that can be built upon with more complex content and conversation.”

Returning to Turkey for her Fulbright experience was no accident.

“My interest in Turkey is both academic and personal,” says Dorothy. “My father, grandfather, aunt, and several uncles have all lived in Turkey, some attending schools, and some teaching at them.

“…Because of my experiences teaching English in Istanbul and my work studying Turkish political trends at DC think tanks, my love of Turkey is holistic, making the prospect of an English Teaching Assistantship there all the more exhilarating.”

Dorothy says she’ll immerse herself in among her community’s artists and will include her students on cultural excursions.

“Involvement with the Turkish artistic community will be fundamental to my classroom, as well as my personal endeavors,” she says. “Attending community events, such as the Ankara music festival and local theatre performances, will deepen student engagement with English literature and understanding of complex concepts.

“I also envision becoming personally involved in community theatre and taking Turkish language classes to supplement my reintroduction to Turkish culture.”

During her time at UGA, Dorothy has studied in Morocco; researched political systems at Washington DC organizations Freedom House and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; and also found time to serve as an executive board member of the UGA Mock Trial team.

Dorothy believes that however achieved, improved communication leads to “bridging gaps in understanding.” Her own experiences – including a frustration with traditional language teaching methods – have impacted her studies in Middle Eastern family law and the problems inherent in miscommunication.

“In the summer of 2016, I uprooted my desk in search of the familiar landscape of language barriers surmounted by laughter,” she says. “I found it in Marakesh, Morocco, while participating in intercultural dialogues with Moroccan students studying English. These conversations cemented my fascination with Western misconceptions of Islam and Middle East identity and the role of language in bridging such gaps in understanding.”

When asked what she was looking forward to the most from her Fulbright experience, Dorothy says, “I’d say I’m most excited about the people: my fellow Fulbright scholars, future students, colleagues, and people I’ll meet at restaurants and museums, etc. I’m thrilled at the notion of learning about Turkey and the world and myself through these new spaces and places. I’m so lucky to have been given this opportunity, and I am immensely grateful to those who helped me get here.”

At the conclusion of her Fulbright year, Dorothy will move to Vienna, Austria, where she will pursue a Master’s degree – on full scholarship – in Gender Studies at Central European University. She says she will continue her research on Middle Eastern family law and the reform of legal institutions, with the long-term goal of an academic career in Middle Eastern studies and Comparative Politics.