Michael Capaldi
Michael Capaldi, EDU ’21

Philadelphia native Michael Capaldi, EDU '21 chose to study English Education at Temple University because he knew he wanted a career teaching English abroad. 

Capaldi received the opportunity of a lifetime when was awarded the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for Hungary for the 2023 academic year. He was one of three English teachers in the country awarded the Fulbright ETA. 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides funding to conduct research or creative projects, pursue graduate study, or teach English abroad. During their grants, Fulbright recipients meet, work, live with and learn from the host country's people, sharing daily experiences. 

Capaldi recognizes several Temple University faculty who were instrumental in his experience. Professor Michelle M. Pinto, he says told him about the Fulbright program and encouraged him to pursue the grant. Retired CEHD professor Joe Haviland wrote a letter of recommendation on his behalf. Additionally, Capaldi says Director of Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising at Temple University, Barbara Gorka, encouraged him throughout the process. 

"I met the director of the Fulbright Commission in Hungary, Karoly (Charles) Jokay when he was visiting Philadelphia last summer," shared Gorka. "He said that Michael was their top candidate due to his education major and his year of teaching post-undergrad. He said we should send more applicants like Capaldi." 

"Michael was the ideal candidate for the Fulbright ETA. Fulbright values education majors due to their theoretical base in pedagogy and their practical classroom experience. On top of his academic and professional preparation, Capaldi had a personal interest in Hungary, which strengthened his application. Capaldi first applied for the Fulbright during the pandemic, when many countries could not support as many Fulbright students as usual. When it didn't work out, I encouraged him to try again, and I am so glad he was selected on his second try," added Gorka." 

Capaldi's family is Hungarian, so receiving the opportunity to teach in Hungary has been extra special for Capaldi and his family.   

"I began my Fulbright grant for teaching English in Hungary in September," said Capaldi. "I have been teaching university English classes, giving presentations at high schools, and leading conversation clubs and cultural events for foreigners to learn more about American culture and develop their English skills. Through my Fulbright work, the new friends I've met, and the volunteer work I've picked up along the way, I feel that I've developed myself as a teacher and as a person more than I could have expected," said Capaldi. 

His assistantship is over in May, and he plans to stay in Hungary until June.   

Capaldi first studied abroad in Japan for one semester and enjoyed it so much that he is considering teaching in Japan again and is interested in going back to Hungary in the fall. But, for now, he plans to return to the United States for the summer while deciding his future.  

He advises others thinking about applying for the Fulbright program to "start early and apply because you will learn a lot from all the writing. Also, it will make you think about what is essential," said Capaldi.     

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered at Temple University through Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising. Temple's Fulbright Bootcamp begins on May 17. Rising seniors, graduating seniors, graduate students and recent alumni are encouraged to participate. Learn more about how Scholar Development and Fellowships Advising helps students apply for Fulbright scholarships and other external awards.