Austin College 2020 graduate Katherine Seibert heads out later this week to begin a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant post in Seoul, South Korea. She looks forward to the opportunity to experience the rich culture of the country and to serve as an ambassador of the United States. “It’s more important now than ever to learn about other cultures so that we can be inclusive members of the global community,” she said. “We have so much to learn from other countries about education, public health, and democracy, and I’m excited to gain valuable perspective in South Korea.” Her assignment is for the 2021 calendar year.
During a summer 2019 Global Outreach service trip to Cusco, Peru, Katie discovered that her responsibilities included teaching English to a kindergarten class, which was at first daunting. “I had shared a connection with the classroom that allowed the children a glimpse into my world and in turn, I had received a window into theirs,” she said. “Because of mutual curiosity, doors to other cultures opened for me and for my students.”
Katie said she grew up hearing stories from family who had served in South Korea with the U.S. military. She looks forward to clarifying her childhood perspective and gain a more realistic picture of the country.
Previous encounters shape her plans. “In Peru, I learned that the best lessons I could share start with a simple conversation—an exchange of experience, memory, or emotion.”
Katie has much education of her own ahead. She has plans for graduate school in public health as well as medical school.
“My academic interest in both economics and rural life has sparked a career goal to understand economic policy in efforts to aid low-income families in the medical field,” Katie said. “Through experiences given to me by Austin College, I was able to see not only the clinical side of medicine but also how the socioeconomics of an area impact patients. In the future, I hope to pursue a career as a physician and work to provide better access to medicine for all socioeconomic classes.”
Katie said. “As South Korea’s economy changes, so does its modern culture and heritage. I am fascinated by the meld of old and new cultures in South Korea, between deep-rooted traditions, globalizing industries, and growing economic markets. This chance to interact with students as an ETA will provide an invaluable window into how a changing economy impacts the core of a culture—the family.”
Whether around the world or in her own hometown, Katie has found a foundation for her life: teaching and learning should never stop, she says. “As a lifelong learner and ETA, I hope to continue the tradition of cultural exchange by simply starting a conversation.”
Katie, who completed a major in economics and a minor in Spanish at Austin College, is the daughter of Frank and Susan Seibert of Medina, Texas. Selected as Austin College’s Outstanding Senior Woman in 2020, she was a member of Alpha Delta Chi sorority; president of Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow ambassador program; captain of the women’s tennis team; and a 2019 Global Outreach Fellow, among other activities.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 50 percent of students identifying as persons of color. The residential student body of approximately 1,300 students and more than 100 expert faculty members allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. Related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA), Austin College cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. The College, founded in 1849, is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.