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Advising abroad

Posted 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024

Ally Hetto, ’21, center, recently returned to the U.S. after teaching in South Africa.

UWL alum shares Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa

Ally Hetto, ’21, recently returned to the U.S. after spending an extended time in South Africa, courtesy of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. 

Graduating with degrees in Spanish and Education, accompanied by a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Hetto credits her positive experiences abroad to the invaluable lessons she learned in the TESOL Program, which prepared her to teach in multicultural classrooms. 

Through the Fulbright program, Hetto served as an advisor for the College of Cape Town Journalists. The College of Cape Town is a technical and vocational education and training school, located in the heart of the central business district in Cape Town, South Africa.

Reflecting on her time abroad, Hetto shares, “One of my favorite experiences in South Africa was creating a program for my adult students to learn about journalism, technology, sustainable tourism, as well as marine and wildlife conservation.”

Hetto served as an advisor for the College of Cape Town Journalists.

The program was created to target gaps in student knowledge regarding technology proficiency, professional English speaking and writing, and public speaking confidence. 

“It was incredibly rewarding watching students grow in multiple disciplines including English language skills, digital literacy and confidence levels,” Hetto says. 

In addition to academic growth, the College of Cape Town Journalists sought to provide exposure to wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism experiences that are out of reach for many South Africans. A highlight was the advisor and student trip to the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Gansbaai, South Africa, where students were able to interview marine biologists and conservationists. 

“It was exciting to share numerous first-time experiences with my students, including encountering a great white shark during cage diving, feeding the endangered African penguin and embarking on a safari,” Hetto says. 

A significant takeaway for Hetto was learning how to bridge cultural differences between students in the U.S. and South Africa.

Hetto recommends the Fulbright program to anyone interested in teaching abroad.

“Before beginning my contract in South Africa, I was a long-term substitute teacher for a second-grade classroom in Kimberly, Wisconsin,” Hetto explains. “As an extension of the College of Cape Town Journalists, I created a Pen Pal Program with that second-grade classroom to promote cultural exchange through global connectivity.” 

Hetto shared that both the second-graders in Wisconsin and the adult learners in Cape Town showed an equal level of curiosity and engagement in the exchange of cultural knowledge. 

“I am so grateful to have created lasting mentorships and friendships with students in the Journalism Program and my English classes,” Hetto says.  

Hetto is no stranger to traveling abroad. Before embarking on her assistantship in South Africa, she spent six months in Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia to build on her appreciation for the Spanish language and Latin American cultures. That experience, coupled with her UWL education, prepared her for the challenges of teaching abroad. 

The Fulbright Program is an international exchange program designed to expand perspectives through academic and professional advancement and cross-cultural dialogue. Its programming includes grants, assistantships, fellowships and other research opportunities in 140 countries.  

Hetto was inspired to apply for an assistantship by UWL Professor Heather Linville and former UWL Lecturer Melissa Collum, both Fulbright alumni. Hetto recommends the Fulbright program to anyone interested in teaching abroad.

To see Hetto’s student’s work, visit


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