Fulbright scholar assists GHC faculty

Elisheva Ray Staff Writer

Argentine native Ignacio Lau is learning about American culture while helping teach Spanish at Georgia Highlands College and Southern Polytechnic State University (SPSU).

Lau is currently working in the classroom as a teacher’s assistant to GHC’s Amanda Nichols, lecturer at Marietta. Last semester he assisted Kathryn Garcia, assistant professor of Spanish on the Cartersville campus.

At his home in Argentina, Lau teaches English to Argentineans who wish to acquire English as second language.

Lau is here on a grant provided through the Fulbright program and the Institute of National Education. The Fulbright program is a international educational exchange sponsored by the US government to promote understanding and cultural awareness.

Ignacio Lau, GHC’s Fulbright scholar, visits Seattle’s waterfront on spring break.

With his help, GHC and SPSU are making collaborative efforts to enrich the foreign language experience for students.

Lau has served as a Spanish tutor, guest speaker in the Spanish Club and cultural ambassador. Lau is also taking American literature and history courses at SPSU while living on campus.

Lau says this opportunity is a great honor, and while he misses his family back in Argentina, he is excited to be here in America and hopes to get the most out of this opportunity. “My cultural perspectives have been greatly expanded, and although Americans are very different, I can see many similarities,” Lau said.

Bronson Long, assistant professor of history and study abroad coordinator at GHC, said, “Lau has been a great asset to the institution. Teachers are excited to have him, and his presence in the classroom has really helped to enrich the foreign language learning experience.”

Lau’s parents are both history teachers. As a child, Lau recalls loving the English language. He also grew to share his mother’s love of the Beatles. This was among his first experiences translating language, though he never would have imagined it would bring him this far.

The application process for the Fulbright Program is extensive and highly competitive. Upon applying, participants must advance through two interviews, achieve a passing score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language and wait to be selected as the applicant’s qualifications are compared with those of hundreds of other applicants. Lau recalls that the entire process lasted upwards of seven months.

He began his Fulbright program at the start of the fall 2011 semester and will continue his stay through the 2012 spring semester.