W&L Alumna Annie Talton ’21 Selected for Fulbright to Hungary Talton has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English to the Roma student population in Hungary.
Washington and Lee University graduate Annie Talton ’21 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) through the Roma Student Initiative to teach English in Hungary. At W&L, Talton double majored in religion and sociology with a minor in poverty studies. Talton is a native of Selma, Alabama, and graduated from John T. Morgan Academy.
The Roma Student Initiative ETA program is designed to provide English language training and leadership development to the Roma student population in Hungary, a historically marginalized and persecuted group in Hungary and across Eastern Europe. Talton will have the opportunity to engage in English teaching and community development work that aims to increase access to higher education for Roma people. The award is highly competitive as only one Roma Student Initiative ETA is awarded each Fulbright grant cycle.
“I am beyond humbled by and grateful for this opportunity to invest in, learn from, and serve the Roma people in Hungary and to continue to build upon my global education to someday bring back to my local community,” Talton said.
After graduating from W&L, Talton spent a year as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, serving the immigrant, refugee and asylum-seeking communities in the greater Washington, D.C. area. She credits this experience for sparking her vision for cultivating inclusive, diverse and empowering learning environments that encourage learners to lean into their unique gifts and identities and facilitate authentic connection and community.
“One of the most valuable lessons I learned as an ESOL teacher in the D.C. area was that so much of teaching is learning to move with students through their distinct learning and life journeys,” Talton said. “I can’t wait to employ and continue building skills like this with my students in Hungary. Working with the Fulbright-Hungary Roma Student Initiative will not only be an invaluable opportunity to continue leaning into my passion for teaching, but also to continue building skills for diplomacy, cross-cultural collaboration and global education.”
Talton has had a talent for creating inclusive and welcoming spaces since she was a student at W&L. Jon Eastwood, professor of sociology, recalls she was “one of those students who truly made the most out of her college experience and always contributed to the experiences of her fellow students, bringing an intellectual spirit to conversations in the classroom and beyond.”
At W&L, Talton was involved in WLU Peer Counseling, Reformed University Fellowship, the Outing Club, the W&L Repertory Dance Company, and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, and her thoughtfulness and passion for community made her stand out on campus.
“Annie has a passion for the big questions — about justice, love, forgiveness and more — and her passion is infectious,” said Howard Pickett, associate professor of ethics and poverty studies and director of the Shepherd Program for the Interdisciplinary Study of Poverty and Human Capability. “She has a gift for making classes and communities better, something I witnessed while she was a student in my Spring Term course.”
Talton is particularly grateful for the mentorship she received from W&L faculty members, who encouraged her curiosity and passion for service.
“This opportunity would not have been possible without the many mentors, professors and peers who inspired and taught me to think critically about how we can care for communities both at home and abroad, to be curious to learn other perspectives while maintaining personal connections, and to seek to do work that promotes the dignity and respect of all human beings,” she said.
With the Fulbright award, Talton will depart in September 2023 for her nine-month program. Upon completion of the program, Talton is considering several options including attending graduate school to study clinical social work, theology, or international diplomacy, continuing to teach overseas, or leaning into her budding interest in farming.
The Fulbright Program was established more than 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Washington and Lee University is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2022-2023 Fulbright U.S. Students for the fifth consecutive year.
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