Emma Baxter ’17, an anthropology major with a minor in comparative American studies, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in Taiwan. Baxter will live in Taichung, a major city on Taiwan’s west coast, and teach English in an elementary school.
Baxter’s decision to apply for the Fulbright ETA program was heavily influenced by her experiences in summer 2016 teaching English to refugees in Des Moines, Iowa, while working for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). A native of Iowa City, Iowa, she also interned for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science during winter term, an experience that bolstered her interest in combining museum studies and social justice work in her career.
“The Fulbright is one more step in contributing to the cumulative process of figuring out my career path,” says Baxter.
The chance to travel to a new place was also highly appealing to Baxter, who studied abroad twice during her time at Oberlin. As a sophomore, she participated in the Oberlin in London program, and as a junior she traveled to Central America with the Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE) program.
“I like the idea of being a cultural ambassador,” says Baxter. “And right now, I have the ability to travel. Picking up your life and going somewhere is easier when you are younger.”
Baxter asked to be placed in Asia as she was adopted from China as a child and hoped for the opportunity to return to the region as an adult. Baxter placed Taichung at the top of her list of Taiwanese cities to live in, believing that a metropolitan area would benefit both her linguistic and academic goals.
“There are more Mandarin tutors in large cities,” Baxter explained, “and as I’m interested in museum studies, there will be more opportunities there to become involved with those types of institutions.” She is proficient in Spanish, but will be learning Mandarin for the first time during her fellowship.
Baxter is currently studying museums through a social justice lens in a private reading with Associate Professor of Anthropology Amy Margaris. For her capstone, she plans to examine how the Allen Memorial Art Museum is able to create dialogues about race and social justice through its exhibitions and education programming. Baxter hopes that she will be able to incorporate some of this research into her curriculum in Taichung.
After her fellowship ends, Baxter plans to continue working in museum studies—with the goal of making museums more accessible—and may eventually attend graduate school. “I want to be active in my community,” says Baxter. “I don’t see myself working in an office or somewhere isolated.”