Westminster Senior Micaela Bottari is a Fulbright Semi-Finalist
As the world seems to be growing smaller thanks to the Internet and evolving technology, language continues to be at the heart of communication and understanding. New tools for learning another language seem to be cropping up almost daily – Rosetta Stone, Duolingo and Babbel are just a few.
Westminster senior Micaela Bottari believes that music can also be an important tool in language learning.
“I remember how growing up in a choir that sang in many different languages changed the way I perceived language and my ability to interact with it,” she says. “For example, pronunciation became progressively easier across all languages, and I was comfortable listening to people speak in different languages; even if I didn’t understand what they said, I could grasp the sounds I recognized, which I believe is one of the first steps in actually tackling a new language.”
Her interest in this subject inspired her to apply for admission to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Malaysia. The ETA program places recent college graduates and young professionals as English teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities overseas. It’s designed to improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing the U.S. student's own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
Why did she select Malaysia?
“I wanted to go somewhere that I would otherwise probably never visit. Malaysian culture immediately fascinated me as I started to do more research,” she says. “I loved learning about the diversity of its people, and how that influences the education system. While I might disagree with certain mentalities, I found it intriguing to think about stepping into and absorbing a culture that is so different from what I’ve always known. In a world where communication across continents is increasingly easier, I think having the tools to take part in the conversation is crucial. I don’t believe English is the only way to do this, but it might be a good start.”
Micaela is currently a semi-finalist in the very competitive Fulbright awards process —already a great accomplishment. As she awaits the final results and approaches the conclusion of her time at Westminster, she reflects on the past four years.
“The entire Westminster experience is unique; it shapes you as a student and as a person,” she says. “My involvement in ensembles like Westminster Williamson Voices, the Symphonic Choir and Westminster Kantorei have given me so many opportunities to grow as a musician. I have had classes, professors and coaches who changed the course of my life with their support, commentary or simple desire to share knowledge. I will always be grateful to the people I have met at this incredibly special little school. I am proud to be a product of Westminster Choir College. “