LEWISBURG, Pa. — After a lengthy and detailed application process, a phone call is all that stood between Sarah Bunker, Class of 2012, and a year in Russia on a coveted Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award. On the other end of the line was a woman in Moscow, judging Bunker's ability to speak the language.
"I've had three years of Russian, but having to speak it is the most nerve-wracking part," Bunker said. The call lasted about 15 minutes. "It was an enjoyable conversation filled with laughter and personality, which led me to believe it went quite well. But when I looked on the Fulbright website and saw that the calls usually last 30 minutes, I started to panic."
In the end, Bunker had nothing to worry about. She was awarded the grant and will leave for Russia in September. The Italian Studies and International Relations major and Posse Foundation scholar will spend nine months to a year in Saratov, Russia, helping students with their conversational English and demystifying the American culture.
Bunker also hopes to immerse herself in the Russian culture, similar to what she experienced studying abroad during her junior year at Bucknell.
"After only four months in Italy, I could speak Italian almost fluently. It felt amazing," Bunker recalled. "I would love to do that with my Russian language as well. What better way to tidy up my Russian-speaking skills than to go over to Russia and teach English to students while also providing information on U.S. culture and society? It's truly an amazing opportunity."
When Bunker returns to the U.S. next year, she wants to pursue a master's degree and plans to become a Foreign Service Officer with hopes of working abroad for the U.S. Department of State, or to work at an NGO for international development in human rights and health. Wherever she ends up in the world, Bunker says she'll always cherish her time at Bucknell.
"Bucknell has given me so many unique experiences. From being a Junior Fellow for the Language and Cultures Residential College, to studying abroad on a ship going around the world, to workshops like Common Ground, to exploring the Jewish culture in Morocco with Hillel, the memories I have at Bucknell will stay with me forever."
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