Fulbright TAs add cultural connection


by Clayton Bowers, Staff Reporter

Four women from around the world have come to Simpson College to take part in the teacher’s assistant program through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Constanza Gauna and Carolina Conde took a break from teaching in Argentina to come to Simpson for a unique cultural experience in the United States.

Teresa Branz, of Germany, and Erika Nguyen, of France, have both come to America to further gain firsthand experience with English and to appreciate Western culture.

All four women arrived on campus last fall and have been absorbing the community while appreciating the friendly students and staff.

“The people here are really, really nice, and I would never change my job here to go work in a big city, like Chicago or San Francisco,” Nguyen said.

Although all four have adjusted to the pace of Indianola, the cultural differences still allow for some interesting observations.

“We noticed in Pfeiffer especially, that people eat in 15 minutes and they’re out of there,” Branz said. “The international group is always the last ones to leave. We usually stay there for over an hour.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a government-funded program that allows people from all over the world to come study in America for a year to gain a more in-depth understanding of our culture.

“We come here to be teaching assistants for one year, and then we have to go back to our countries for two years before we can become a part of the program again,” Gauna said.

Both Gauna and Conde are English teachers in Argentina. Their jobs allow them to go work or study abroad and return to the same position when they come back.

The program requires that while being a teaching assistant at Simpson, they also must take two classes during their time here.

All four women have felt exceptionally lucky to be able to come to a small, liberal arts college and have fully appreciated the smaller class sizes.

“Classes here are small so you get to know every student, so that’s very nice because you can have a closer relationship with them,” Conde said.

Not only do they help teach classes alongside professors, but they also get to enjoy the student side of Simpson College.

“The kind of relationship that you establish with your students is cool because you’re not a professor, but you’re also not a student, so you’re able to experience both sides,” Nguyen said.

While experiencing a hybrid of helping teach while also being a student, their time out of the classroom is very similar to the average college student.

“We spend a lot of time with the students,” Branz said. “Mostly international students, but sometimes the American students. We go to basketball games a lot, attend bingo nights and the operas that the students perform in.”

The four women all live together in on-campus housing, but they also have a host family.

“Our host family will invite us over to their house or take us out somewhere,” Conde said. “We really appreciate them and all they do for us.”

One piece of advice for Americans that was unanimously agreed upon by the teaching assistants is to take time to live in the here and now. Enjoy the present and enjoy relaxation.