Welch, of Vancouver, Wash., is currently living in Bamberg, Germany, where he spent the past year as an English teaching assistant after receiving an award from the Fulbright Program.
The DAAD scholarship will enable Welch to extend his stay in the country to complete an independent research project on immigrant education policy in Germany and attend classes on migration-related topics at the University of Bamberg. In addition to obtaining independent research experience, Welch will learn more about the international policy topic, both of which will prepare him to study international affairs at the master’s level. He hopes to eventually use the same research skills in a career with immigration and refugee-focused nonprofits.
During the past year, Welch has mentored and tutored an eighth grade student who immigrated to Germany with his family a couple of years back.
“It has been a good experience to get to know him and do what I can to help him adjust to life here,” Welch said. “Besides that, working with over 10 different teachers to plan lessons and then doing those lessons with classes with widely varying English abilities has been a crash course in intercultural communication and teaching.”
Welch said being the host “expert” on America has given him the opportunity to clear up misunderstandings and stereotypes, but it has also been a humbling reminder of all there is to learn.
“I now have a connection with Germany and many German people that will last the rest of my life,” Welch said.
As a German studies and international relations double major at Linfield, Welch spent a semester studying in Vienna, Austria, and became interested in languages and cultural differences. He also had the opportunity to travel to Germany, which left him wanting to learn more about German society and culture. Welch’s interest in immigrant populations was piqued while studying in Vienna, where he found the topic just as contentious as in the U.S. He wrote his senior thesis on immigration policy.