COVID-19 isn’t stopping International Studies and Spanish double major Heidi Specht ’20 from fulfilling her goal of working in Brazil after graduation. In April, Specht was announced as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) recipient with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
In January 2021, Specht will head to Brazil for the 9-month grant program to teach English at the University level. She will be one of two students assigned to a city, although her assigned location within Brazil has not been determined yet.
“I knew I wanted to teach English abroad after graduation,” said Specht, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. “It’s all toward an end goal of teaching English and working with minority groups in Philadelphia.”
Specht spent a year in Brazil living with a host family before enrolling at Arcadia University. This experience inspired her Arcadia journey, as she’s since studied abroad in London, England on the First-Year Study Abroad Experience, and Valparaíso, Chile, and Granada, Spain, each as traditional programs.
While in Chile, Specht learned Spanish and volunteered as an English Teaching Assistant in a local school, which provided the experience necessary to be placed in the English Foreign Language internship position in Spain.
“After the semester in Europe, I came out feeling aimless like I was checking off a bucket list of must-sees,” said Specht. “It made me realize the importance of intentional travel, so I approached future abroad experiences with more conscientiousness.”
The Fulbright program awards between 60 and 90 ETA awards each year for locations in Brazil. She is the third Arcadia student to be selected for an ETA award, and the sixth community member to receive a Fulbright award in the past five years.
Specht was also selected as a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship in Brazil, which would have helped her advance her Portuguese skills in the southern city of Florianópolis at the University of South Santa Catarina. However, this program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.