Ilana Ascher Awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany

July 15, 2020
Hillary Hempstead
Ilana Ascher standing on porch wearing flowered pants and yellow shirt.
Psychology and German double major Ilana Ascher ’19. Photo credit: Jill Ascher

Ilana Ascher ’19, a psychology and German double major from Frederick, Maryland, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany. 

Ascher was encouraged to apply for the Fulbright opportunity after taking a class with Professor of German Steve Huff. “I was amazed by how I could fall in love with the language all over again—and much more seriously than when I had studied German in middle school,” says Ascher. “The books we read were enthralling German crime novels, and Steve was an amazing professor. He is the one who essentially put a piece of paper in front of me and urged me to declare my first, and most surprising, major at Oberlin. This was the first step that sparked my journey to becoming a Fulbright scholar.” 

During her Fulbright experience, Ascher hopes to become involved in community building, focusing primarily on salient issues in the United States, such as police violence, so that she “can open a discussion about how different countries and cultures have historically responded to issues of racism and policing.” She also plans to focus on environmentalism, as she says these efforts look very different in the U.S. than they do in Germany. 

“Many of the students will be from a different background than myself, so I plan on having the classroom be a space of collaboration where we can all explore our ties to different cultures, as well as our shared ties to Germany,” she says. “Overall, I hope to bring with me a realistic depiction of the United States, one that is not romanticized and truly encompasses American culture.” 

While abroad, Ascher says that she would like to improve her grasp of the German language. “I would love to become as close to fluent as possible and set myself up to complete my schooling in Germany, or even begin a career there.” She is also committed to “making a world a better place for children” and hopes to gain practical experience in the field of education, laying the groundwork for a career as a teacher, social worker, or even a developmental psychologist. But, says Ascher, “My dream is to one day become a German professor at Oberlin College. This Fulbright seems like a good place to start.”

During her time at Oberlin, Ascher was involved in club and intramural sports, including bowling and softball; she also was on the varsity field hockey team during her first year on campus. In the classroom, Ascher conducted psychology research, both independently and with research groups. She received the Stetson-Heiser award for applied psychology for her research on carpooling and increasing carpooling among Oberlin staff and faculty. She also published a story about the function of the amygdala for the Synapse, Oberlin's intercollegiate science magazine. Ascher was also involved with the Oberlin City School system and worked for the Ninde Scholars Program as a tutor in the Oberlin City School District. Through American Counts, she also served as math tutor and worked for The Bridge after school program. 

Post-Fulbright, she hopes to attend graduate school. “Whatever I do, I will apply my work to help children and students through social work, education, and/or research. My future is still very much undecided, and I believe that my Fulbright experience will provide some more clarity.”

“My utmost appreciation, and a huge shoutout, goes to the faculty and staff at Oberlin College. The professors who guided me through my time, namely Professor Steve Huff and Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies Cindy Frantz, are so sincerely dedicated to their students. I still believe that the most amazing thing about Oberlin are the people who work there. I would also equally like to give credit to Director of Fellowships and Awards Nick Petzak. It is no surprise that Oberlin produces a large number of Fulbright scholars with such an amazing advisor working at the Office of Fellowships and Awards. I would never have even gained the courage to apply for a Fulbright had it not been for Nick telling me that I would be a ‘brilliant candidate.’”

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