May 22, 2018
Hillary Hempstead
Photo of Emma Ellis leaning against window ledge
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Emma Ellis '18, an art history major, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Hamburg, Germany.

At age 13, Ellis began studying German language and culture. After a positive study abroad experience in the country, she began exploring how she might return for longer. When she learned about the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, it seemed an ideal opportunity.

“Even though I have never taught a foreign language, the Fulbright teaching assistantship seemed like a perfect way to marry my interest in education with my wish to travel back to Germany,” says Ellis. “I have been working with children of many ages and backgrounds in educational settings since I was 14 years old, and I’ve found using language to make connections incredibly valuable when abroad.”

During her assistantship, Ellis hopes to gain a better understanding of German culture and language. She also hopes to hone her skills as an educator to prepare for a possible career in the field.

“Working in the German school system will be incredibly eye-opening and professionally enriching. For me, one of the most rewarding experiences is helping others develop skills that make them more emotionally aware or affirm their self-confidence in their own intelligence and abilities. I see instructing German students in English as fulfilling both of these aspects of why I wish to pursue education professionally.”

While at Oberlin, the Boston native was involved in the education department at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, where she’s worked both as a docent and as assistant to the curator of education. She endeavors to apply her experience translating complex artistic concepts to her work teaching English.

“As someone interested in art education, I'm used to people finding subject matter confusing or inaccessible, and I try to help them work through this to engage productively with new or strange material. I see language instruction as similar and the [teaching assistantship] as a way to deepen my professional education experience while simultaneously interacting with a country whose culture has been the focus of my academic career for close to a decade.”

Prior to her assistantship, Ellis will intern with the education department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also has been awarded a student travel grant to attend a conference about Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos, Switzerland.

Upon her return to the United States, she is considering attending graduate school to continue her studies in art history, museum education, or general education.

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