Ruby Williams ’20 is the recipient of a 2020 U.S. Student Fulbright Award to Germany, where she will serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Her position will begin in January 2021.
Williams, who studied abroad in Germany in 2019 through the Julius G. Blocker ’53 Fellowship, is eager to return to the country to reimmerse herself in the “exciting and thought-provoking culture.” As a Fulbright, Williams will teach English and lead classroom activities about U.S. history and culture.
The Fulbright program also emphasizes local community engagement. Williams intends to bring her experience working as a teaching assistant at Cedar Arts Center in Corning, N.Y and her knowledge of creative arts such as gallery curation, ballet and music to her position in order to enrich local youth initiatives.
Graduating magna cum laude in Comparative Literature, Williams aspires to become a professor of literature. She believes launching her career in education in Germany will allow her to develop a critical and comparative understanding of pedagogy and its relationship to political and personal identity formation.
“What I believe makes Germany a particularly vital and inspiring place to learn now is the intensity of the cultural and political history of the country and how Germany is choosing to address modern cultural shifts and definitions,” Williams says. “‘Who or what is German?’ and ‘Who gets to decide?’ are particularly difficult and complex questions being addressed right now, especially in contrast to the U.S., and I believe that pedagogy is central to the development of these cultural questions.”
Williams herself has been a student of many different learning environments. For her early education, Williams was homeschooled. At the age of 16, she pursued a career in ballet in New York City. After daily rehearsals at Gelsey Kirkland Dance Academy, Williams would take her high school courses online. As a student at HWS, Williams again adapted to a new learning environment and found a passion for the study of literature. Williams studied abroad twice at the Colleges, first in Galway, Ireland then in Berlin, Germany.
“I was drawn to Ireland as someone interested in literature, but particularly as someone interested in the political significance of storytelling and art,” Williams says. A student during the height of political coverage surrounding Brexit – the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union – Williams says she routinely asked her Irish peers about their hopes for their country’s future.
Next as a Blocker Fellow, Williams kept a blog while studying in Berlin through IES Abroad. Her writings were inspired by the artist Kurt Schwitters, who created collages to document the world around him. Williams wrote about the city’s continuous reinvention of private and public spaces, food security, the political significance of Berlin’s Turkish restaurants and other topics. Back on campus, Williams shared her observations of German culture with the HWS community at the annual Blocker Student Showcase.
On campus, Williams also served as a peer mentor through the Center for Teaching and Learning. She edited Thel, the Colleges’ literary arts journal and was a member of the String Ensemble and HWS Pride. She was an HWS Arts Scholar, Katherine D. Cook Scholar and member of Sigma Tau Delta Honors Society.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. Government’s flagship international exchange program. In February, Hobart and William Smith were again ranked among U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2019-2020 Fulbright U.S. Students. In the past five years through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, 25 HWS students have been awarded full research grants and English Teaching Assistantships awarded for graduate study, research or teaching opportunities.
HWS students interested in applying for Fulbright awards should contact the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education at firstname.lastname@example.org.