JMU Alumna Prepares For Fulbright Assignment in Slovakia

From: Public Affairs

Traci Cox will go to Slovakia in September

Traci Cox is spending her summer learning to speak Slovak while also studying the history of Slovakia.

In September, the December '08 graduate will travel to the central European country to teach English to high-school students who are preparing for college. Cox found out in March that she had been accepted for a highly competitive Fulbright teaching assistantship, the culmination of an arduous application process that began last August.

“It’s a very lengthy process, lots of waiting and running back and forth frantically to the mailbox,” said Cox, an Honors Program student who majored in English and minored in anthropology.

The application process involved filling out a paper application, writing a pair of essays, interviewing with the JMU Fulbright panel and sending the application to the Fulbright Commission in New York. After gaining approval from the New York panel, which took four months, Cox had to send her application to a panel in Slovakia for further review—and more anxious waiting.

Learning the Slovak language, which is full of consonant strings and different sounds, is a breeze compared to waiting for the decisions, said Cox, who also speaks some French and German.

The students she will teach at a private school in Zilina, Slovakia's fourth largest city, will be intermediate English speakers and should have a fairly good command of the language, she said. To get into college, Slovak students are required to pass a rigorous English exam. In addition to learning grammar, they learn English literature and some about the American culture.

Cox is not required to learn Slovak for the assistantship, but she wants to be able to interact with the Slovak people as much as possible during her 10-month assignment. Following her work in Slovakia, Cox plans to attend graduate school and pursue her passion for creative writing.