As a Taiwanese and Cantonese American, spring graduate Sarah Wong never had any question about where she would want to live and learn abroad. And now, following two years of the pandemic, she is thrilled to spend a year immersing herself in the culture and education system of Chiayi city, in the southwestern region of Taiwan, with a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“Through family trips and learning about my family's long history on the island, I developed a strong connection to Taiwan,” says Wong, a musical studies and law and society major with an education studies concentration.
Wong says Chiayi is home to a diverse population in Taiwan, including Taiwanese aborigines, Han Taiwanese, and other ethnic groups. She is looking forward to bringing her experiences to the Taiwanese classroom and society while immersing herself in a language-learning environment.
“I am eager to learn about how schools operate outside of the United States, and how Taiwanese educators teach their students. I highly value my heritage languages, and I’m excited to improve my fluency in Mandarin and Taiwanese,” Wong says. “Fulbrighters around the world represent the United States in all of its complexity and diversity. As a Taiwanese and Cantonese American, I look forward to sharing my own personal version of America with my new community in Taiwan.”
Wong says Oberlin has provided her with many opportunities to grow as a student, teacher, and person. She came to Oberlin having spoken some Mandarin in her home. She took some intermediate Mandarin classes in her first year “mostly for fun.” For the last four years, she has been an America Reads tutor. She worked in Oberlin's elementary school classrooms and in the afterschool program as a literacy, language arts, and homework tutor. She also taught the Introduction to Taiko ExCo course for four semesters.
Wong acquired additional teaching and coalition-building experience as a teaching fellow for the Bridging the Gap (BTG) program at Oberlin for two years. Through this program, she worked with other BTG facilitators to share coalition-building and dialogue curriculum with college students in New York and Tennessee.
Outside of the classroom, Wong has been a member of Oberlin’s Asian Diaspora Coalition and served as secretary of the Asian American Alliance. She also worked as a program associate in the Multicultural Resource Center.
A resident of Monterey Park, California, Wong’s post-graduate goals include law or graduate school to focus on education advocacy and reform.
“If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught me, it is that I can never be completely certain about my future plans,” she says. “No matter what I do, I will bring my experiences from both Oberlin and Taiwan with me. Whatever path I choose, I will remain committed to Mandarin language study and hope that I will use my language skills in my professional life, not only as an education advocate but also to promote understanding between the U.S. and Taiwan.”
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