"Normally, we send three to five students ever year," said Solveig Zempel, Norwegian professor and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary and General Studies. Zempel is the Fulbright program advisor for St. Olaf.
Writing and revising the application essay, as well as preparing for the interviews can be "a grueling process," according to Zempel. But St. Olaf students are motivated to take on the extra work in the fall of their senior year; 13 went through the process this fall. Nine made the first cut. Out of those, three students received awards and four are alternates.
Kathy Pospichal 05, a Spanish and English as a Second Language (ESL) education major, will travel to Chile in spring 2006 for a 10-11 month English teaching assistanceship.
In Concepción, Chile, Pospichal will teach 20 hours a week at the university. She will also attend classes, focusing on linguistics.
Pospichal studied in Spain last year, but her experience working with Spaniards while in Spain was "very different than an experience I could have in Latin America."
After discovering that teaching positions were available in Chile and Argentina through the Fulbright program, Pospichal decided to apply.
Pospichal felt her personal experience with the English language distinguished her from other applicants. "I learned English as a second language," she said. "I grew up speaking Czech."
In addition to studying Spanish since high school, Pospichal has taught ESL and this past fall completed an independent study on teaching English.
Before her departure, Pospichal plans to work as a long-term substitute in Chicago teaching Spanish and ESL.
The other two Fulbright winners will travel to Norway next year to complete research projects.
Knut Christianson 05 majors in physics, math and Norwegian. He didnt know how the three majors would fit together, but these skills earned him a spot among 10 Fulbright scholars who will study in Norway next year.
In early August, Christianson will begin 12 months of study at the University Center on Svalbard in northern Norway.
Although he will also attend classes, his main focus will be geophysics research. He will study ice-penetrating radar and remote-sensing data.
According to Christianson, ice-penetrating radar "looks downward into the ice" rather than sending out signals into water or air. Remote-sensing data involves satellites and aircrafts. The projects goal, Christianson said, is "to try to figure out ways to use satellites to more completely study glaciers."
Christiansons preparation for this project included research with Physics Professors Paul Jacobel and Brian Welch for the past two summers and during the academic year. Jacobel was key in helping Christianson prepare his research proposal.
This summer, Christianson will do ice core imaging with Richard Alley, a professor at Pennsylvania State University. Christianson will attend graduate school at Penn State after returning from Norway.
Rebecca Lofft 05, an English and Norwegian major, spent her first two years at St. Olaf as a music major. Although she did not complete the major, Lofft will spend next year at the Academy at Rauland in Norway studying Hardanger fiddle, enrolling in a masters program in the traditional art.
"I just knew that I really wanted to study Hardanger fiddle in Norway," Lofft said.
Loffts research will focus on the role of women in folk music. Traditionally, women have sung and played the langaleik instrument. Female Hardanger fiddlers are rare, Lofft said. She found this surprising, since most of her Hardanger fiddle role models in America have been female.
Lofft has participated in Hardanger workshops and lessons since high school. In college, she continued studying Hardanger with Associate Professor of Music Andrea Een.
This summer, Lofft will travel with the St. Olaf Orchestra, Band and Choir to spend three weeks performing in Norway. She will return to the United States to work as a counselor at a Norwegian camp in northern California and to attend the Hardanger Fiddle Association of Americas annual meeting in Wisconsin.
Lofft is considering completing her masters degree in Norway. "I might stay for a second year," she said. Her second year would consist of "just traveling around in Norway and studying with different people."
Her plans are tentative, partly because Lofft sees herself doing other things in the future. "I just want to open a jewelry store," she said.