Academic Accomplishment and Cultural Exchange: American Mariah Prescott teaches for 10 months at the Bothel Wiedau-Schule

“Akademische Leistung und kultureller Austausch: Amerikanerin Mariah Prescott unterrichtet für zehn Monate an der Botheler Wiedau-Schule”

A rough translation for those of you non-German speakers. There were a few liberties taken back at the newspaper office or something was lost in translation during the interview, so I’ve added a few brackets with notes.

“Good morning, boys and girls!“ – “Good morning, Miss Prescott!“ It’s routine since the American, Mariah Prescott, has been at the Wiedau-Schule in Bothel. Since the beginning of September, the 24-year-old Foreign language teaching assistant has been helping out in all classes at the school.

Three years ago, she was able to experience Northern Germany.  In 2012, she came to Universität Hamburg for two semesters to study German Studies. With help of Fulbright, which sends fellows worldwide, Prescott managed to attain the position in Bothel. At the same time, the Wiedau-Schule applied to have a teaching assistant come to the school. Susanne Schmidt, head of the foreign language departments explains, “We are very fortunate and honored that Mariah was assigned to us.”

The whole process was about a year long. “I’m one from 1900 chosen from the whole USA,” [pretty sure I said 1900 and she typed otherwise, I’m also not 100% positive about the number and can’t find it online. It’s in a letter at home.] remembers Prescott. 140 of the English-speaking teaching assistants were sent to Germany. Prescott wasn’t able to choose the exact area, but she did wish to come to Northern Germany after her experience in Hamburg.

Since the beginning of September, the 24-year-old has accompanied all of the foreign language teachers […umm, just in English?] at the school and imparts the students, for example, the differences of pronunciation between British and American English. She also leads grammar and speaking exercises.

“At the beginning the students were very shy,” laughs Prescott and remembers her beginning with the German language. [I told them I, too, had to learn a foreign language and make mistakes.] “I told them that they should speak freely and not be afraid to make mistakes.” In the meantime, the students’ started to show interest and also in Prescott’s life in America and the differences between the schools in the US [and Germany]. “I told them about our school system and holidays, like for example Halloween.” And that is good, adds Schmidt.

Different than other grants, the goal of the Fulbright program is not just for the academic encouragement but also the cultural exchange.

Prescott has a good mastery of German because she went to a Waldorf school back in her home area, Boston, Massachusetts, and has been learning German since her eighth year of life [not true, I said 7 and I am 100% sure of that].

During her 10-month-long stay in Germany, the language assistant has lived with her colleague and “host mom and host teacher,” Claudia Ahmetaj in Walsrode, who teaches English at the school. “I am very thankful for it [everything she’s done]” says the 24-year-old with a smile.

Prescott drives to school daily with her host mother and on the side learns lots about German culture back at her “home” in Walsrode. The American was also allowed to experience a village street festival and a shooting festival. She also often gladly chats with the neighbors in her free time.

Mariah Prescott recommends her exchange experience further: “Germans can also apply to the program,” she explains. Through her

Ihre Austauscherfahrung empfiehlt Mariah Prescott weiter. „Deutsche können sich ebenfalls für das Programm bewerben“, erklärt sie. Durch ihren stay, the 24-year-old is quite sure: “I would like to be a teacher.” One thing’s for sure: in her home country. She heads back to the States at the end of June.

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