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LILIAN ZHU, Brazil, 2018-2019

Fulbright Year: 2018-2019
Country: Brazil
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistantship
UGA Undergraduate Majors: Romance Languages, Latin American and Caribbean Studies
Graduation Date: Spring 2018
Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa

With fluency in four languages, Lilian Zhu always seeks to communicate with the correct words and phrases, but also with an understanding of the context.

Lilian will spend her Fulbright year in a to-be-determined city in Brazil, teaching English at a federal university, and she also plans to devote time volunteering with a women’s rights and/or empowerment organization.

“As an ETA, I plan to contextualize English as much as possible so that students will be familiar with both academic English and its everyday manifestation,” says Lilian, who graduated from UGA in May with degrees in romance languages and Latin American and Caribbean studies. “Students could then develop both their persuasive writing and speaking skills through an impromptu classroom debate in English.

“I’m hoping that by utilizing both English from classroom curriculum and social media tweets and posts that come directly from the American people, I can better expose Brazilians to the discussions being held in real-time about our society's beliefs and challenges."

A Foundation Fellow, a liaison to Pamela Whitten (former senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at UGA), and volunteer project coordinator for a Brazilian childcare center, Lilian is no stranger to teaching or to South America.

She has worked as an English tutor for Paper Airplanes, a nonprofit organization that provides language instruction to university-eligible students displaced by the Syrian refugee crisis and she also worked with her Brazilian language partner on polishing his English. She points out that through these opportunities, she has learned how to provide context while explaining the finer points of native-speaker usage.

And while on a study abroad program last fall in Buenos Aries, Argentina, Lilian (along with classmate Samia McEachin) joined the local Ultimate Frisbee team 12 Monos, which qualified to compete in the 2017 Pan-American Ultimate Club Championships, held in Cañuelas, Argentina. She also spent a summer in an immersive-language school in Brazil, polishing her grasp of Portuguese.

Prior to taking on her Fulbright assignment, Lilian will venture to Taiwan (sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to study that country’s role in East Asia for several weeks and then will return stateside to serve an internship with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Lilian says working as an ETA in Brazil will aid in her future professional plans by allowing her to continue to develop the cultural and linguistic competency needed for a career in diplomacy. After her Fulbright commitment has ended, she plans to attend graduate school for continued international affairs study and is considering a career as a Foreign Service officer.

“I am interested in working in working for the Department of State to further develop the United States’ relations with Brazil,” she says. “I was very lucky in that the University of Georgia gave me so many opportunities to travel during college, and those experiences have been instrumental in motivating me to seek a career in international cooperation.”

Consensus among the United States and Brazil is paramount, and Lilian wants to ensure that no aspect of the relationship is “lost in translation.”

“The United States and Brazil are the two largest democracies and economies of the Western Hemisphere,” she says. “It goes without saying that collaboration is in everyone’s best interest and that minimizing the amount lost in translation is essential for cultivating a successful partnership. As the political, economic, and social exchange of ideas continues to flow, the importance of cross-cultural dialogue will only increase, and I hope to be of service to these communities in the future.”