Knox has received praise for its extensive study abroad programs, and international study for Knox students does not end at graduation. Three students will be traveling to South Korea, India and Jamaica with Fulbright scholarships this year.
Senior Leslie Kang, one of these students, is going to teach English to middle school students in South Korea and research the “culture of education in Asian societies and families.”
She hopes that her teaching and research will “help me work with kids whose first language isn’t English, to learn different ways to communicate and teach them and how Asian American students are feeling, and maybe help others understand the pressures they have in our system,” Kang said.
Kang, who is Korean but has not been to Korea since the third grade, wanted to learn more about her own culture and use her knowledge of the Korean language.
Senior Joanna Stack also received a Fulbright scholarship to teach English and work with women’s groups in New Delhi, India.
Stack loved her previous experience teaching English in Taiwan and wanted to teach English again.
Working with women’s groups will help her gain experience related to her goal of working with international nonprofit.
Brent Newman, ’10, will be conducting research in Jamaica, doing conservation work with the Jamaican yellow boa constrictor.
He will be living and working in a remote research station with a group of scientists. Newman was not sure if he wanted to go directly into grad school and appreciates that the Jamaica program will allow him to gain experience without being a student.
“I wanted to get my hands dirty with fieldwork,” Newman said.
Fieldwork and research experience will also help him in applying to veterinary school or working in wildlife management, two possibilities he’s considering after his time in Jamaica is over.
Fulbright gives students unique opportunities to teach and research abroad, but it is not easy. The application involves two essays, two recommendations, an online section and an interview before candidates’ applications are even sent to the country they would like to go to for the final selection, according to Stack.
Although the application was long, Kang found that the application “prepared me a lot.” She explained that after the Fulbright she most likely would never encounter a harder application.
In addition to the application, all three students found waiting to hear whether they got the scholarship to be difficult.
Newman was originally told he was an alternate and had a longer wait before he was told that a spot opened up.
Going to live in a new country brings pressures of its own. Newman is worried about living in a remote, isolated location and in one of the areas of the island most densely populated with mosquitoes. Kang doesn’t know the exact location where she will be and can’t prepare.
Despite the challenges of a Fulbright scholarship, the students are excited for the opportunity.
Stack is excited to teach in India, whose “economy is relevant to the global economy,” she said.
Newman is looking forward to “collaborating with experts in the field … [and] the knowledge I’m going to be gaining from these scientists,” he said. According to Newman, the experience will give him “a whole new perspective on a different culture that I can bring back to the U.S.”
Stack said the Fulbright program was “created to increase mutual understanding between nations … it’s important to understand other cultures and you can only get that from firsthand experience, when you can really understand another person’s way of life.”
This cultural exchange was something Kang felt Knox prepared her for.
“My experience at Knox has shaped me and prepared me for the Fulbright appointment through academics and extracurriculars,” she said, mentioning being president of her sorority as an important factor. Kang encourages students to “take advantage of opportunities here at Knox, because you can really grow and learn from them.”