Senior Spotlight: English Majors Teaching on the Fulbright

As another spring meanders to a close, all of us on Second Laird are excited for everyone’s plans for the off-season, in particular our graduating seniors about to pen new chapters in their stories. The Miscellany caught up with Jennifer Chan, Ellie Grabowski, Anne Hackman, and James Smith, all of whom were awarded Fulbright grants to teach English for a year. Read on for their thoughts on their upcoming adventures, and join us in wishing them fruitful experiences as teachers and wayfarers!


Jennifer Chan

1. Where are you going and who will you be teaching?

I’ll be teaching primary school students in South Korea!

2. What are you most looking forward to about your year abroad?

In no particular order—discovering mountain vegetable bibimbap on hikes, getting to know my students, teaching English to North Korean defectors, visiting Cheongsando Island during the Slow Walking Festival, and beginning to feel at home in a place where I was once a stranger.

3. What’s one book you’d like to take with you and why?

Woolgathering by Patti Smith! My ideal journey book is comforting, but also makes me want to explore. This one contains childhood memories of marbles in socks, a detective who sells minnows, and a family of cloud watchers—exactly the sort of patchwork details I hope will stitch my year together!


Ellie Grabowski

1. Where are you going and who will you be teaching?

I will be going to the city of Bà Rịa, in southeastern Vietnam, and I will be teaching college students.

2. What are you most looking forward to about your year abroad?

I am most looking forward to the opportunity to learn a language that is totally new to me.

3. What’s one book you’d like to take with you and why?

I would like to bring Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It followed me from high school to college, so I would love for it to follow me on to the next stage of my life!


Anne Hackman

1. Where are you going and who will you be teaching?

I will be teaching secondary school students in South Korea.

2. What are you most looking forward to about your year abroad?

I’m most looking forward to learning Korean, because I really enjoy studying languages.  I’ve also never had the opportunity to study a language in such an immersive environment before, so I’m very excited about how that will influence the learning process, especially because I will be living with a host family for the year.  It will also open so many doors in terms of really connecting with my students and with my colleagues in the school!

3. What’s one book you’d like to take with you and why?

A collection of Seamus Heaney’s poems – I felt like I wasn’t done with him after 395.


James Smith

1. Where are you going and who will you be teaching?

I’ll be in the Canary Islands, Spain, teaching in early childhood and elementary classrooms.

2. What are you most looking forward to about your year abroad?

I think that being at Carleton, I’ve gotten very used to (and good at!) constantly having things to do. What I haven’t had so much practice with is learning to go-with-the-flow, to relax, and to just enjoy where I am for what it is. I’m excited to have an opportunity to spend a year completely focused on slowing down and appreciating what’s around me. And, you know, to finally have a year of living in Spanish to help me solidify some fluency.

3. What’s one book you’d like to take with you and why?

So much of the Fulbright is focused on cultural exchange, and I do wholeheartedly believe that books are one of the best windows we have to other people’s lives. Mary Wears What She Wants by Keith Negley is a beautifully illustrated story about Mary Edwards Walker, a Civil War era surgeon who was also one of the first women to insist on wearing pants in public life (she even went to jail for it a couple of times!). I’ll take it with me both as a useful teaching tool and as a reminder that being unapologetically who we are is an important part of doing good, authentic work in the public sphere.

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