Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 12 August 2011 00:00
On Sept. 25, Carle Place High School alum Bryce Klatsky will head to Waibhofen an der Ybbs, Austria for a teaching fellowship to share some of his knowledge of American affairs with Austrian teens.
While some may have had to Google “Waibhofen an der Ybbs” for a quick geography or pronunciation lesson, Klatsky, a recent Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) grad, is plenty familiar with the mountainous area, having previously studied in the central European republic.
“During my junior year at Skidmore College (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) I studied abroad in Vienna, Austria with an Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) study abroad program. There, I lived in an apartment with three other American students and attended classes (in English) at a school in the inner city.
“During that semester I traveled quite a bit throughout Austria and to neighboring Hungary, Slovenia, Germany, and the Czech Republic. One of my classes at IES allowed me to work as a teaching assistant in a Viennese school (the Billrothgymnasium),” said Klatsky, a history major and English literature minor at Skidmore.
While at the European school, Klatsky lent some of his domestic wisdom, ranging from immigration to American television, to young Austrians.
“I was interested to find that Austrian teens loved Two and a Half Men and were shocked to hear stories from American newspapers about illegal border crossing in the Southwest and the animosity they aroused.
“As part of the discussion on illegal immigration, I taught the T.C. Boyle novel, The Tortilla Curtain, which juxtaposes the lives of two families—a family living in a comfortable gated community in California and an illegal immigrant family dreaming of a better life for their new baby,” Klatsky explained.
The 20-year-old scholar called the learning experience “amazingly rewarding” as he observed students take on new vocabulary and eventually tackle deeper themes and motifs in the novel. While he’s nearly aged enough to consume adult beverages here in the States, Klatsky offered his take on the cultural and legal implications of turning 21 in a foreign country.
“I am 20 and lament the fact that I’ll be celebrating my big 21st birthday in a country that neither ritualizes the celebration nor restricts drinking,” said Klatsky, who noted he’ll likely be mapping out his life beyond 21 while in Austria.
“I will be considering graduate schools for history while abroad and plan to apply from Waidhofen an der Ybbs. Ultimately, I hope to teach European history at the post-secondary level,” he added.
As an undergrad and honor society member at Skidmore, Klatsky’s résumé suggests he’s more than qualified to represent the United States beyond its borders – Klatsky was awarded the Lee History Prize, presented annually to an outstanding student in English or European history, and the Barbara Gruntal Allen ‘35 Prize, which is bestowed to a student who demonstrates an excellence in the study of voice.
“I built up a repertoire of opera and classical art song that allowed me to compete in and luckily win several local competitions in the Saratoga and Albany regions.
“I was also lucky to lead the Skidmore Drastic Measures, Skidmore’s only charity a cappella group, as president during my senior year. Each year the group picks a different charity and donates all proceeds from CD sales and performance payments to that charity. During my tenure as president, we donated over $2,000 to ASPIRe NY, a community-based recreation and activity group for teens and young adults with disorders of social relatedness,” Klatsky added.
The multi-faceted young man, whose mother, Christa, teaches English at Carle Place, hopes to build on his first teaching experience in Austria with “an open mind and attentive ear” while also pursuing some personal interests.
“Some of my hobbies include singing, reading history and traveling. Luckily, I will be able to pursue all of these interests this upcoming year in Austria,” said Klatsky.