BU GRADUATE CARRYING OUT FULBRIGHT TEACHING ASSISTANTSHIP IN GERMANY
Fulbright Recipient: Michael Snow
Hometown: New York, New York
Class of 2014; double major in Philosophy and English
Michael Snow, a spring 2014 Binghamton University graduate, is currently a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Wald-Gymnasium, a high school in Berlin, Germany.
While at Binghamton, Michael took on many positions within organizations that nurtured him and challenged him to become a critical thinker. He was the Editor of the Opinion section of Pipe Dream, the Binghamton University Student Newspaper, and the Vice President of the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life. Through his involvement with these organizations, Michael gained invaluable leadership experience.
Michael joined the opinion section of Pipe Dream as a first semester freshman and became the Editor of that section his senior year. In that capacity, he oversaw a team of 25 columnists and contributed to editorials twice a week. Michael used his role to challenge the campus community to think critically about a range of subjects such as religion, social issues, politics, and gender.
As the Vice President of the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life, Michael organized educational offerings and events such as Shabbat dinners for a community of over 400 students. Through Chabad, Michael made his closest friends at Binghamton. He also took up leadership posts that allowed him to challenge other students to meaningfully engage with their Jewish identities. He credits the Chabad community, and the Slonim family in particular, with being his "home away from home," while at Binghamton.
On campus, Michael garnered teaching experience by serving as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (TA) for a Greek philosophy course and as a tutor in the Binghamton University Writing Center. His tutoring role allowed him to encounter the diversity of Binghamton students. Michael credits Dr. Paul Shovlin, the Director of the Writing Center, as a pedagogical inspiration. Dr. Shovlin's experience teaching English as a second language through the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe, combined with Michael's leadership experiences on campus, inspired him to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. Through the program, Michael hopes to gain teaching experience to determine if he would like to pursue education. He's also interested studying the construction of modern German identity, especially with regards to diversity, history, and memory.
Since the beginning of his Fulbright, Michael has enjoyed getting to know Berlin. "It is a very exciting time to be in Berlin," he shared. Berlin was reunified in the early 1990's; it is still young and in the midst of redrawing its own culture and identity. Berlin is "like a 24-year old: full of potential but uncertain of a clear direction, a little overwrought and emotionally volatile." Michael has also immersed himself in the re-emerging Jewish community in East Berlin. "It's a very meaningful place to grow and contribute Jewishly," he reflected.
The teaching experience has also proven to be rewarding. "Developing lesson plans and organizing classes around issues like nationalism, gender, and identity is really gratifying. I'm learning a lot." Michael's been pleasantly surprised with the freedom he's had in organizing classes around important topics of interest to his students. "There's no way I could have known," he shared, "that I would lead a 12th grade honors class on gender roles, socialization and heteronormativity using commericals, the media and Huxley's Brave New World as examples."
Michael is teaching a wide range of students, from grades seven through 12. Working with each age has its advantages. "The 7th graders, for instance," he says, "are very curious and want to know so much about me, New York, and my impressions of Germany. Teaching the 12th graders is also terrific because they are so bright, articulate, and impressive."
Michael is delighted at how much he's already learned and looks forward to what's ahead. Follow Michael's adventure in Berlin through his blog.
Michael attributes thanks to Janice McDonald, Director of the Office of External Fellowships, Scholarships & Awards, and to Frank Mischke, his instructor for German 101, for helping him earn his Fulbright. He also thanks his parents tremendously.
Article contributed by: Christina Huang, '16