Laura Beckman’09 wanted to study abroad, but it was expensive and her part-time job wouldn’t begin to cover it. She received the Presidential Scholarship, however, that didn’t cover half the cost. A second scholarship enabled her to go to Granada, Spain, for the spring semester in 2007.

She knew she wanted to return to the country someday, but she wanted to get some experience teaching middle-school students in the states first. Laura taught English and Spanish in a rural Illinois school for two years before leaving for a bilingual classroom in southern Spain.

In addition to English, she taught bilingual physical education, music, and social sciences. She also reached out to another Illinois State alum, Molly Gleason ’09, a Spanish teacher in Tuscola. They set up a language exchange blog so that their students could share native languages through video, stories, and pictures.

“It was an exciting and engaging way to give our students an authentic language learning experience,” Laura said. “This experience has been very fulfilling. I’ve delved into the Spanish language and culture, enjoying the people, the food, the way of life.”

Before returning to the U.S. in June, she had the chance to explore Europe and Morocco, and will take those experiences into another classroom in Portland, Oregon. She also plans to begin working on her master’s degree, possibly in bilingual education.