Greetings from our Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

Greetings from our Fulbright English Teaching Assistant


As you could read in our September edition of our newsletter, this Fall, Ilisimatusarfik and GUX in Nuuk have an American Fulbright student through the so-called ETA programme - as part of our good cooperation with the US Embassy in Denmark and the Ministry of Education, Culture & Church.

The American Fulbright student is Augusta Finzel, and here is a "postcard" from her about her stay with us so far.


"When I arrived in Greenland in early September, I didn’t know what to expect. It was only in June that I found out that I would be in Nuuk for the school year as a part of the newest extension of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program. Prior to finding that out, I had just returned home after graduating from Lawrence University in Wisconsin to the small rural community of Morris, Minnesota in the United States, where I grew up. Growing up, I was always curious about what lay beyond the endless horizon of the expansive prairie that I was so familiar with. At college, I studied Russian and Biology and became fascinated with ecosystems, climate change, and the way of life in the Arctic.

As my plane was landing in Kangerlussuaq I was quite anxious for what was to come. It was a cold drizzly dreary day in Kangerlussuaq, normally the kind of day I would stay inside and wait for a new day to come. However, as I stared out that tiny plane window, I couldn’t believe how much beauty one place could have, especially surrounding an airport. And as if to increase my anticipation just a little bit more, my plane to Nuuk was delayed by about seven hours. So I went for a walk with one of my program leaders who had accompanied me to Greenland. At that time, I did not know much about the nature here, and was surprised to recognize a few similar plant species to the ones back home in Minnesota.

The majority of my time is spent helping as an English teaching assistant at GUX-Nuuk and Ilinniarfissuaq. In some classes I help with the lesson plans, while in others I help with conversational skills or serve as a cultural reference for my country. I think it is a lot of fun to work with all of the students and learn about the different backgrounds everyone comes from as well as share a piece of me and my home with them.

Over the last two months I have had the opportunity to go on boat trips and explore the fjord system, seeing whales and getting close to icebergs. I also had the chance to go with Ilinniarfissuaq on a trip up the Kobbefjord and while there learned about all the edible plants that grow here, including blueberries and blackberries. On this trip, I was able to get a glimpse into Greenlandic culture by enjoying cozy nights while everyone told stories and sang songs together. It was during this trip that I knew I wanted to learn as much Greenlandic as possible, even to be able to understand a few phrases.

While I have only been in Greenland for a short time, I recently had the opportunity to travel to Ittoqqortoormiit with a teacher from Ilinniarfissuaq and two of her research assistants. It was very enlightening to see a completely different side of Greenland and learn more about sled dogs and life in a more isolated town. One of the locals graciously invited us into her home for coffee and also took the time to take us on a tour of the town on her ATV. Something that I find special about Greenland is how willing people are to teach a stranger about their home. And while I do not speak Greenlandic or Danish, I find that most people are willing to try to communicate with me, no matter their level of English.

Since my arrival, even on such a gloomy day, I have felt welcome and at home. Greenland has taught me something new each and every day. Sometimes, as I walk down the streets and notice the stark color of the houses against the snow, I feel as though I’m living in a dream. I never could have imagined, even six months ago, that I would have the opportunity to spend almost a year in Greenland. While I still have another eight months here, it is all going by so quickly that I feel I must cherish every moment that I have. Greenland has given me so much so far and I can’t wait to share what I learn with everyone back home."

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