Alumnus promotes cultural exchange through Fulbright work

Valparaiso University Chorale alumnus Jadon Nisly reunited with his former classmates in Germany this week during a break from his teaching assignment near Linz, Austria, as a Fulbright recipient. Nisly is one of five members of Valpo’s Class of 2009 to receive a prestigious Fulbright award to conduct research or teach overseas during the past year.

Since September, he’s taught English at a agricultural high school in St. Florian, which Nisly calls a perfect fit having grown up on a small dairy farm in Kansas.

Watch a video in which Nisly discusses his Fulbright experiences and connecting with Valpo Chorale during its Germany tour.

To build the Austrian students’ language skills, Nisly said he regularly calls upon his musical background by bringing his guitar to the school and leading students in songs.

“I think music is a great way to learn a language,” says the former four-year Chorale member.

“Chorale and the emphasis on German Lutheran music was a huge inspiration,” Nisly said. “Having the Bach Institute on campus and digging into the cultural aspects of Germany history was really appealing to me. I also went to Germany for the first time with the Chorale as a sophomore, and I applied for Valpo’s Reutlingen study program right after I got back.”

That semester in Reutlingen program gave Nisly a taste for living abroad and he decided to squeeze in a German minor after that. Those experience also led Nisly to apply for a Fulbright award.

“It all really came together with the music and the strong German program at Valpo,” he said. “The Chorale was always the activity that really defined my college experience and through it grew my love of German language and cultural as well.”

Nisly continues to sing now with a church choir in Linz.

“One of the things I enjoy most about the Fulbright experience is the opportunity to involve yourself in the life of the country,” Nisly said. “The choir members were very welcoming and we’ve had some great conversations. There is great music performed in Linz all the time, so I’m in heaven here.”

Nisly recently decided to extend his Fulbright experience and will continue teach English in St. Florian next year. He’s considering pursuing graduate studies in Europe at the end of his Fulbright experience and whether he wants to become a full-time ex-patriate.

“Cultural development in Eastern Europe is something that is really fascinating to me,” Nisly said. “How they preserve their traditions for their own sake, not just for tourists or other people.”

Meeting the Chorale during its 2010 German tour has allowed Nisly to reconnect with friends and meet new members of the ensemble.

“People come and go but the [Chorale] robes remain,” Nisly said. “You think about all the people who have worn those robes before and loved music like you do, and there’s such a strong history there. Once you start singing it’s not about you, it’s about the community.”

(View larger images)
Get the flash player here:



May 20: Concert - Leipzig, Lutherkirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 23: Service - Seyda (10 a.m.) and Gentha (1 p.m.)
May 24: Concert – Rottenburg am Neckar, Wallfahrtskirche Weggental (7 p.m.)
May 25: Choral Workshop – Rottenburg am Neckar (9:30 a.m.)
May 26: Concert - Bernburg, Schlosskirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 27: Concert - Köthen, St. Agnus kirche (7:30 p.m.)
May 28 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (5 p.m.)
May 29 - Cantata - Leipzig, Thomaskirche (3 p.m.)
May 30 - Service - Leipzig, Thomaskirche 10 (a.m.)