Alexa Beil, who graduated in May with a B.A. in Art History, has received an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which will allow her to spend the 2016–17 academic year teaching in Germany.
Beil has been studying German since fifth grade, an interest spurred by her German heritage. “My grandmother has always referenced German sayings that her parents and grandparents used to say, so I was always interested in learning more about the language and culture of the country where my family is from.”
Beil will be teaching in Potsdam in the state of Brandenburg. She said she hopes to create a love of languages among the children she teaches and integrate art into their classroom experience. She also hopes to help refugees—especially child refugees—learn the German language. “I want to be part of the solution and help these children assimilate into a new home and culture while still gaining an education.”
According to Beil, art can be integrated into the classroom in various ways. “From teaching and discussing artworks in English to having students create their own art that reflects a story or topic that we had discussed, I think there are many opportunities to inject art and creative thinking into the classroom,” she said. “Integrating art into the classroom gives students a creative outlet and another way of accessing the information being taught to them.
This summer, Beil is serving as the arts and crafts director at the Double H Ranch in upstate New York, a camp for children with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. She also worked on the camp’s arts and crafts program team last summer. “Working at the Double H Ranch has simply been one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life,” Beil said. “My experiences at camp have made me extremely interested in pursuing art therapy as a career. I think helping people through the healing qualities of art would truly bring me a lot of happiness.”