Fascinated with education’s ability to bridge cultural divides, Emily Hall ’14 has won a Fulbright grant to live and teach in Nepal, the birthplace of Buddha and the roof of the world.
Emily Hall ’14, a human development major with a minor in anthropology, has won a Fulbright award to travel to Nepal, where she will be an English teaching assistant.
Hall, who this spring is a student teaching intern at Sudlersville Elementary School as part of her senior capstone project and her elementary education certification, will live and teach in Nepal from July through March 2015.
Her accomplishment marks the second time in two years that a Washington College student has earned a Fulbright. Sarah Masker ’14, a double major in English and Hispanic studies, is currently a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Brazil.
“I’m on cloud nine. I am unbelievably fortunate to have been given this opportunity,” says Hall, who will be assisting a Nepali teacher in a primary or secondary school, most likely outside of the capital city of Kathmandu. “It’s going to be an amazing experience working with Nepali teachers and living with a Nepali family. I can’t wait to immerse myself into the culture, learn the language, and build cross-cultural bridges within and beyond the classroom.”
“What impressed me and the campus interview committee most about Emily is how very deeply she has reflected on her international experiences so far, especially the issues of cultural identity and cross-cultural interactions,” says Patrice DiQuinzio, associate provost for academic services. “Her thoughtful ability to look at herself in the way someone from another cultural might see her will really contribute to her effectiveness as an English teaching assistant.”
Hall says she applied for the position in Nepal because of its diversity of religions and ethnicities, and its history as a country that has long been isolated, now opening more to the outside world. “Because parts of Nepal are so remote, a number of indigenous cultures have maintained their way of life for hundreds and hundreds of years, so the presence of westernization in Nepal is primarily new and fresh,” she says. “Culturally and historically, it is an exciting time to teach in Nepal as a representative of the United States and show that the West isn’t as simple as black and white, it’s nuanced, and whoever you are, wherever you come from, if you have the ability to think critically and creatively, no one label is going to define who you are.”
Hall has made the most of every moment at WC. A member of WACappella, Lambda Alpha, a peer mentor leader, and a Writing Center peer tutor, Hall twice has traveled to Tanzania as a Douglass Cater Society Junior Fellow to teach and further her studies in how education can empower underprivileged children and people. She credits the College’s Anthropology Department and its chair, Aaron Lampman, “with helping me fall in love with the whole concept of cultural identity and what it means to question your experiences as a human being.” The Education Department, she says, has provided “the most holistic, in-depth experiences in the classroom.”
Across the board, she says, her teachers here have changed her life. She arrived at WC “a very self-conscious freshman. I did not believe in myself or my academic abilities at all… when I got to Washington College I started building strong relationships with my professors. I was eager to meet and talk with them, and every single professor I had was eager and willing to help me.” John Boyd, director of The Writing Center, and former assistant director Mariah Purdy, helped her “understand the value of writing and working hard on my writing. They helped me push myself to become a better writer and writing tutor which helped me become a better thinker and recognize my innate love for language as a means of self-expression.”
Bridget Bunten, assistant professor of education and coordinator of elementary education, says Hall is “caring, driven, intelligent, and reflective—all characteristics of a transformative educator.”
“Something that is very notable about Emily is that she is so open and kind to others, people are drawn to her,” says Kate McCleary, director of the WC Global Education Office. “She is able to listen as well as lead, and ask questions as well as give answers. These attributes, partnered with her preparation as a teacher and cross-cultural communication skills, will enable Emily to be very successful as a Fulbright ETA and in life.”