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Tawni Sasaki '16 introduces herself during her teaching assistantship in Taiwan.


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Sasaki, Tawni '16

English Teaching Assistantship in Taichung, Taiwan

Majors in International Relations and Modern Languages

Sasaki is using her Knox education to create innovative lesson plans as a Fulbright Fellow in Taiwan.

Tawni Sasaki '16 introduces herself during her teaching assistantship in Taiwan.

Tawni Sasaki ‘16 is teaching English in Taichung, Taiwan during the 2016-2017 school year. She is one of three Knox students who received Fulbright awards in Spring 2016 to teach abroad.

Sasaki was recently selected for the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship. This competitive scholarship provides financial support, mentoring, and professional development to prepare the recipient for a career in the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service. After completing the assistantship program, Sasaki plans on completing a master's degree in International Affairs at the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Talk about your experience in Taiwan and what you enjoy about it.

Through my Fulbright grant, I serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at Jun Gong Elementary School in Taichung, Taiwan. Four days a week, I work with classes from grades two to six to help improve their English language capabilities while contributing to cross-cultural exchange. We teach alongside local Taiwanese English teachers and work as co-teachers in the classroom, sharing teaching responsibilities and collaborating for lesson plans. On Tuesdays, I work with an English "camp" that travels to different elementary schools in the city and executes day-long lesson for fourth grade students.

Outside of the classroom, we're encouraged to become engaged in the community and learn more about Taiwan. Although I enjoy being with my students and look forward to working with them every day, getting to know Taiwan has been the highlight of my time with Fulbright. It's a wonderful island filled with unparalleled culture, food, and an overwhelming number of things to do. Since living in Taiwan, I've helped to coach a local debate team, run a half marathon (albeit slowly and painfully), and traveled to many different places around the island.

Are there any specific parts of your Knox experience that helped prepare you for this position?

Absolutely! I believe Knox challenged me to think in a more well-rounded way—something that I've tried to incorporate into my lessons. Rather than teaching a class just about stereotypical Thanksgiving vocabulary, why not introduce the different ways people celebrate Thanksgiving in America? What's the best way to explain what "Americans" look like to elementary-aged students? The collaborative environment at Knox prepared me to look deeper into these situations and think of different ways to address them.

The small campus also made me value the relationships I built with my professors and other students: I make the time now to get to know my co-teachers personally and try to learn the names of all (500+) of my kids (though not always successfully). Also, studying abroad while at Knox definitely helped prepare me for the culture shock and transition that is necessary for spending an extended period of time living in a different country.

Sasaki served as co-president of Model United Nations, Discourse editor for The Knox Student (Knox College's award-winning, student-run newspaper), and she received a Gilman Scholarship and Critical Language Enhancement Award to study abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China.

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Printed on Thursday, April 19, 2018