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Fulbright Assignment Helped LMU Alumnus See the U.S. Differently

David Montes ’08, theological studies major with a minor in German and philosophy, knew he was going to face challenges teaching English in Austria. But the Fulbright scholar found his greatest obstacle was accurately portraying American culture.

“Most of the students wanted to know more about what life was truly like in the States than anything else. It was difficult to represent the U.S. without playing into or reinforcing stereotypes,” Montes said. “I was forced to look at my country, my culture and my language from the outside.”

Montes taught English to high school students in Amstetten and Seitenstetten, Austria, from Sept. 2008 to June 2009.  The experience confirmed his aspirations to teach high school students in the future.

“I thrived at working with this age level. We could discuss issues such as the death penalty in a fair and truthful way. It only works with older [students],” Montes said.

Montes had studied abroad in 2007, but he said that it was his German language courses at LMU which prepared him the most.

“My course work taught me to take a broad view of intercultural discussion, and my teaching experience was a culmination of all that,” Montes said. “It also helped me prepare my lesson plans.”

Montes’ plans include pursuing a master’s degree in theological studies, in systematic or pastoral theology.

“Being a Fulbright scholar means being grateful for the opportunity to transcend my immediate surroundings,” Montes said. “I learned the importance of being open to new experiences, taking risks and the value of cross-cultural communication.”