Carol Sun decided to apply for the Fulbright scholarship because she thought it would be a great opportunity to give back to students and become acquainted with Taiwan as a resident rather than just a tourist.
According to Sun, this was the first time that she applied for something she “really, really wanted.” She used resources at the Center for Undergraduate Excellence and within her various departments – as a sociology, animation/VFX, and honors student – to make her application the best it could be.
So far, Sun has expressed that Fulbright has been preparing her for a future career in teaching.
“I am learning a lot about how I would manage a classroom,” Sun said. “I’ve never led a class of elementary school students before – with all eyes on you. It’s definitely frightening the first few times, but I have gained a lot of confidence in my teaching.”
By staying in a completely different cultural environment, Sun has also been challenged to see and understand things from a different perspective.
“Growing up in California, I was lucky to be in a well-funded school district where the liberal arts were pursued, and I was always around other students who were also very motivated and loved learning,” reflected Sun. “Here, it is much more culturally and ethnically mixed, and a lot of people are not as well off.”
This has pushed Sun to reflect on her own privileges and understand the diversity of experiences that exist within education. This has also pushed her to think of better ways to improve education for everyone.
“Here, as it is in many American schools too, the focus is on memorization and grades versus critical thinking,” Sun said. “Creativity is kind of squashed and [students] lose interest in school because they don’t have the proper support or motivation.”
Exposure to this has re-shaped Sun’s relationship with education, and her goals moving forward. If she does become a teacher, she says she will strive to ensure her students enjoy learning.
“I would want my students to not be afraid that their grade is bad or to not have confidence in their abilities,” said Sun. “Even slower learners should feel like they could learn English and engage in it.”
For students who are considering applying to Fulbright, Sun says: “just go for it–you will be living a life that’s different from the one you’re supposed to. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but try to take the challenges that go with living in a different environment. Embrace what comes. Be open.”
Are you looking to apply for a Fulbright? The Center for Undergraduate Excellence has your back! Come by our office to learn more about the application process, or contact Director of the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs Dr. Julye Bidmead at firstname.lastname@example.org.