Nygaard, who will graduate with a degree in mass communication from Linfield during commencement exercises June 2, will participate in a homestay and teach English at a secondary public school in South Korea. Outside of the classroom, she hopes to work with youth to highlight common ground between the cultures of South Korea and Japan. Through the translation of song lyrics and learning slang, she plans to engage students with language and inspire cultural exploration.
Her interests in teaching and grammar started at a young age. Nygaard was introduced to Korean culture in middle school through music and became fascinated by the language in the lyrics and the country in which it originated. However, it was not until high school that she developed a dream to teach overseas after becoming enthralled by the Japanese and German languages.
“I want to share that passion with my students,” Nygaard said. “Participating in the Fulbright program is the perfect opportunity to do that and to finally experience the culture I always wondered about.”
Nygaard has been active at Linfield, serving as a conversation partner, tutor and writing assistant for international students. She was a member of the Linfield lacrosse team for three years, served as a writer and editor for the campus newspaper, The Linfield Review, and is also a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society.
Her time in South Korea will be an opportunity to interact with people and participate in a mutual exchange of perspectives.
“I’m most excited about all of the people I’ll meet,” said Nygaard, who is looking forward to the homestay experience. “I hope I can teach my students and help them have fun studying English but I know that I will learn a lot from them too.”
Nygaard has studied abroad before. During high school, she traveled to both Japan and Mexico for two-week stays. Her travels continued at Linfield as Nygaard took part in a semester-long study abroad to Japan where she studied Japanese culture, economics, policies and language at Kanto Gakuin University.
“That experience showed me that kindness knows no cultural, national or language barriers, and awakened my desire to spread that sentiment,” she said.
After her year in South Korea, Nygaard hopes to return to Japan to teach and is also considering the Peace Corps. Ultimately her plan is to use her love of writing to pursue a career in communications.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. The program promotes mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. Linfield was named a top producer of Fulbright awards for bachelor’s institutions in 2006 and 2010.