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LEIGHTON ROWELL, Brazil, 2016-2017
Fulbright Scholar Leighton Rowell

LEIGHTON ROWELL
Fulbright Year: 2016-2017
Country: Brazil
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistantship
UGA Undergraduate Major: History and Romance Languages
Graduation Date: Spring 2016
Hometown: Sandy Springs, Georgia

During her time at UGA, Leighton Rowell has had the opportunity to visit a number of intriguing locales—her Amazing Student profile says she has been able to “defend essays in Oxford, stargaze in Morocco, and pray in the temples of Bali.”

A Foundation Fellow and 2016 UGA graduate, Leighton also spent a semester studying political science and international relations at Sciences Po in Paris and a summer in Florianópolis, Brazil, studying Portuguese in an intensive language program as part of the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS). The common thread through her travels, she says, is a love for history and language.

Now armed with a Fulbright Scholarship, Leighton will return to Brazil, and this time she’ll be on the other side of the desk, teaching English in a public university.

“As a Fulbright ETA in Brazil, I will collaborate with a university professor to plan and lead language classes for students who are training to become English teachers themselves,” she says. “I’m especially excited to work with university students because it opens the door to language learning activities like discussions on education policy, video chats with language partners in the United States, or even producing a class podcast.”

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Leighton plans to research public opinion on affirmative action in Brazilian universities and would like to volunteer at a children’s hospital, which she previously did during her FLAS Fellowship.

“Although the stated purpose of my volunteer work was language immersion, through daily engagement with patients, their families, and other volunteers I came away with a deep appreciation for what my colleagues called their country’s ‘reality’—that despite political strife and economic uncertainty, there is solidarity even in the most stressful of times,” she says.

With an on-campus background that includes working at the Red & Black student newspaper, radio station WUGA, the Georgia Political Review, and the Georgia News Lab, Leighton will also take a journalist’s mindset to Brazil and may consider a career in letters upon her return.

“As my assistantship ends in November 2017, it’s too soon to tell exactly what is in store for me after Fulbright, but I plan to apply to a mix of fellowships, jobs, and graduate programs,” she says. “For the last few years, I have been working toward a career in investigative journalism. I’m also interested in public policy and, particularly, the intersection of race and education policy.

“I would love to use this year as a Fulbright ETA in a public university to directly observe how Brazil, a country so similar to the United States in its demographic makeup, handles things like affirmative action and then use that experience to assess how Brazil’s policies might apply in the U.S.”

Having spent much time in Brazil already, Leighton says she’s looking forward to teaching English “in a country that embraced and encouraged my goal of learning Portuguese.

“In our globalizing world, the importance of learning to communicate across cultures cannot be overstated, and I’m excited to work with people who share my passion for language and cultural exchange. As an ETA, I’m eager to equip my students with the skills they need to excel in their field, provide them a positive impression of the United States, and, on my end, gain a deeper understanding of Brazil’s culture, history, and changing institutions.”

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