Laura Alexander ’14 was the second HWS student in the 2013-2014 academic year to earn a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to support an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA).
A double major in writing and rhetoric and English, Alexander will begin teaching English in Malaysia this fall.
“In Malaysia, I’ll be working with young people, which is something I see myself doing for the foreseeable future,” she said. “Also though, through my time at HWS, I have learned that I have a bit of wanderlust and having the opportunity to live and learn from a new culture and community is really exciting. Accepting the Fulbright to Malaysia is a great opportunity to pay forward the incredible opportunities and privileges I’ve had here over the last four years and for that, I am so thankful.”
Alexander, who studied abroad in England, knew she wanted to teach, knew she wanted to go abroad again and knew she “wanted to learn from my new home as much as I wanted to teach,” she said. “For me, Fulbright became a perfect blend of these two goals, since it is so focused on cultural exchange and cross-cultural learning. While I’ll be teaching English, I’ll also be soaking in all I can from my students, other Fulbright Scholars, and the community I live in.”
In 2013, Alexander traveled to Thailand with 26 other students and Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer and Associate Professor of Art and Architecture Mark Jones in the first trip of the new January-term program offered through the Center for Global Education. Following that course, “The Revolutionary Power of a Love-In with Elephants: Environmentalism, Peace and Healing in Thailand,” Alexander knew she wanted to return to Southeast Asia.
“Malaysia really interested me because it is a country very much in the process of becoming,” she said. “To be in a place with such religious and spiritual influences that is also pushing for ‘modernization’ will be an incredible learning experience. Since my time in Malaysia will be spent working both in the classroom and outside the classroom organizing extra-curricular activities for students, I hope to use my passions for gender studies and social justice to create opportunities for students to have conversations and dialogues around difficult issues.”
Following the Fulbright, Alexander plans to pursue graduate studies in social work or public health with the aim of working further in the education sector.
Created in 1949, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. Government’s flagship international exchange program. The program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and numerous nations around the world. Recipients are selected for their academic merit and leadership qualities, and will spend a year living, studying, teaching and conducting research abroad in effort to promote mutual understanding through intellectual freedom, academic integrity and openness.