James Peterson plans to spend his free time tuning in to the German hip-hop scene while living in Hannover, Germany, where he will serve as an English teaching assistant in a secondary school. Peterson, who graduated from Ohio University in June with degrees in German and German education and a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), will spend the next year in Germany through a Fulbright grant. In addition to teaching, he will also study German phonetics and literature at the university in Hannover and conduct research on German adaptations of hip-hop music.
"I've always wanted to spend a whole year over there to get to know Germany more than I do and work on my German," Peterson said.
Peterson first became interested in making connections with people from other cultures during high school when a German student lived with his family for a month. He later spent a month in Rottenburg am Neckar in southern Germany as part of the same high school exchange program. While at Ohio University, he taught in the local Foreign Languages in Elementary Schools Program, participated in the German conversation hour and did his student-teaching in a German classroom at Marietta High School. He also spent a quarter studying in Salzburg, Austria, and has worked in the Office of Education Abroad for most of his four years at Ohio University. Peterson hopes to pursue a master's degree in German or linguistics after his Fulbright year and plans a career in higher education.
An active member of the University's Hip-Hop Congress, Peterson is the bassist for Noble Savages, a local band with what he describes as a 'jazzy style' that makes original music with hip-hop influences. He hopes to study the basis for German hip-hop to see if it follows the trends of the mainstream or carries more uplifting messages.
"I want to see what they've done with the music form," he explained. "I like more positive hip-hop. It seems like it's taking a negative turn here in the U.S." A long-time hip-hop fan, Peterson was exposed to German hip-hop and acquired his first CDs while an exchange student there.
"Jim Peterson's course of study and the excellent faculty members that he has had at Ohio University have prepared him very well for this Fulbright opportunity," said Ohio University's U.S. Fulbright Program advisor Beth Clodfelter. "He has become proficient in German, demonstrated his interest in teaching foreign language through his German Education major and earned Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification through the Department of Linguistics."
Peterson said his Fulbright application was strengthened through the support of his professors who helped him formulate ideas for his project, read essays and gave suggestion along the way. He advises students who are interested in applying for the Fulbright grant to focus on getting good grades, working hard on the Fulbright application and getting to know professors well.