Three University of Richmond Students Awarded Fulbright Grants to Teach English in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Tajikistan

April 30, 2019

Three University of Richmond students have been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grants.

Griffin Trau, of Hanover, New Hampshire, will complete his Fulbright in the Czech Republic. Trau graduated in January 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in leadership studies and International Studies: World Politics/Diplomacy. He also received a Master of Liberal Arts from the School of Professional & Continuing Studies in December 2018. Trau served as senior kicker on the Richmond Spiders football team. During his time at UR, he studied abroad in Wellington, New Zealand, and Prague, Czech Republic.

“I’m excited to continue to learn about and research Czech national identity, which I was introduced to when I first studied abroad in Prague and wrote about extensively for my master’s program,” said Trau. “I’m really excited to learn the Czech language and immerse myself in the country’s life and culture.”

While in the Czech Republic, Trau plans to pursue a side project in youth lacrosse development. He has accepted a job with Deloitte Consulting in Washington, D.C., after completion of his Fulbright.

Emily Landon, of Jamestown, Rhode Island, graduated in 2018 with a double major in International Studies: World Politics/Diplomacy and Arabic Studies and a minor in history. Landon will be working with students in Tajikistan. During her time at UR, Landon a member of the women’s swimming and dive team and studied abroad in Morocco and Peru, where she taught English. She says that experience inspired her to apply for a Fulbright. 

“I will have a lot of opportunities to create my own programs and use my strengths and specific topics I have experience with,” said Landon. “Richmond has given me many opportunities to see the world, and I’m excited to continue this by living in Tajikistan and continuing to learn about the world through meeting people and learning from them.”

Landon speaks Arabic and Spanish and will learn Persian/Tajik during her Fulbright experience. Following her year in Tajikistan, she plans to continue studying international relations with a focus on Central Asia and counter-terrorism.

Thomas Vanderbeek, a senior from Somerset, New Jersey, will assist in teaching English in a German school in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz. Vanderbeek will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and German Studies. During his time at UR, he studied abroad in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.

“This opportunity will allow me to build on my years of German studies, to continue my deep interest in European history, to evince my passion for teaching, and to play a significant role in cross-cultural exchange between the U.S. and Germany,” said Vanderbeek.

While in Germany, he plans to volunteer coach in the local community for a competitive swim team. He plans to pursue a legal career. 

"The Fulbright is a wonderful fit for Richmond students who are deeply interested in cultural exchange,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “Recipients engage in international study that fuels both their intellectual and personal development.”

More than 10,000 students applied for one of about 2,000 available grants to study, conduct research, and teach abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for 2019-20. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

To date, the University of Richmond has had 59 student Fulbright grant recipients.

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The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The goal of the Fulbright ETA program is to improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the U.S., while increasing U.S. students’ language skills and knowledge of the host country.