This week, Melissa Hosek ’14 arrived in Taichung, Taiwan, where she will begin a year of teaching English as a recipient of the 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Student Award English Teaching Assistantship. Though this will be Hosek’s first time in Taiwan, she is no stranger to living and traveling in Asia. In 2012, Hosek participated in the Colleges’ semester abroad program in Beijing and studied at Peking University. Since then, she has been sharing her experiences on her blog titled, “Mel in the Middle.”
For Hosek, the blog allows her to share her experiences with friends and family and also serves as a place to gather her thoughts about what it means to live in 21st century China. Hosek’s blog is divided into sections to reflect the multiple experiences she has had with Chinese language and abroad experiences.
In the summer of 2012, she documented her time at the Middlebury Summer Chinese School. While enrolled, Hosek vowed to only speak Mandarin for an entire summer, part of the school’s strict no-English policy. While studying in Beijing with the support of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, she continued sharing her experiences online. This summer, Hosek is sharing her immersions and activities in an intensive language program in Hangzhou, China, as the recipient of the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship.
Hosek applied for a Fulbright award to teach English because she wanted to share her American culture with Taiwanese students while immersing herself in their society and culture. As an Asian Studies and political science major, she is interested in the language, the role that Taiwan plays in East Asian regional politics, and the country’s rich collection of cultural artifacts. For Hosek, working in Taiwan is part of her bigger plan to become a Chinese teacher.
In one entry, Hosek reflects on staying with a family in Hangzhou. “So often, language students are only exposed to school and ‘adult’ situations (buying cloths, ordering food….you know, the standard language textbook chapters), but to see how family members interact with each other, especially when communicating with a young child, was a whole new side to understanding language in context… It will be interesting to compare these observations with new experiences I will have when I teach in a Taiwanese elementary school this fall.”
To follow Hosek’s adventures in the “Middle Kingdom,” check out her blog here: http://melinthemiddle.org/