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Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in South Korea
Major in Asian Studies, Minor in English Literature and Linguistics
Emily Malec '16 has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in South Korea during the 2017-2018 school year. She is one of four Knox students who were selected to teach and complete research abroad. Malec was a teaching assistant at Knox, GHS North, and the Carl Sandburg Literacy Coalition. She studied abroad in Japan, served as co-president of Japanese Club, and completed an ASSET research project.
What led to your decision to teach abroad?
My decision to teach abroad wasn't really a decision at all—I remember when I was in about fifth grade, I found out that you could teach English in foreign countries, get paid, and experience different cultures all in the same experience. From then on, it was always kind of in the back of my head that this is what I wanted to do—that this was the reason I was going to college and that this was my future. It seems crazy that an accidental internet search in grade school so greatly influenced what I decided I wanted to do, but it combined everything I was passionate about even at such a young age: cultural exchange and understanding, the ability to share my passion for language with others, and the chance to get a deeper understanding of the countries I had studied, but never visited.
Are there any specific parts of your Knox experience that helped prepare you for this opportunity?
I think that Knox has offered me support almost every step of the way to my teaching position. Perhaps most important to me personally is my experience in the ASSET Program and the (amazing, selfless) help of Mariangela Maguire. While in the ASSET Program, I was able to better understand my own reasons for wanting to teach, as well as understand the country that I wished to go to (South Korea). Even better, I met Mariangela, who was the person who encouraged me to apply to Fulbright and who looked over every one of my personal statement and grant statement revisions until they were (almost) perfect. Through Knox, I was also able to engage in the Carl Sandburg College Literacy Coalition, which was the first time I had been in a formal ESL classroom. Being a teaching assistant at the Literacy Coalition put my mind at ease because—even though I had been working toward being an ESL teacher for a long time now—I was finally in a position where I knew that I would be able to be a teacher when the time came and that I really, truly wanted to do this.
What are you most looking forward to with the program?
I'm equal parts excited and nervous that I will be in a homestay in Korea. When I studied abroad, I chose to live in the international dorms and had an amazing experience, but always felt like I missed something by not living in a homestay. So, part of me is super excited to experience life in Korea through the eyes of a family, but I'm also quite nervous because I speak only minimal Korean. I learned in Japan that language is not as much of a barrier as we tend to think it is, and that human beings can often communicate in ways that transcend the "language barrier"—as long as both parties are open to a new and possibly frustrating experience! That being said, I am honestly excited for every part of the Fulbright Program. From the six week courses in education and Korean language, to teaching, to exploring the country, to connecting with my community—I am prepared and excited to get started.
Pictured below: Emily Malec '16 (center) with students of the Carl Sandburg College ESL program.
"While in the ASSET Program, I was able to better understand my own reasons for wanting to teach."—Emily Malec '16
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