Rachel Wang heard about the English Language Fellow Program while gaining her MA in Applied Linguistics at Teachers College, Columbia University. She had previously worked at an adult community language program in New York City in addition to teaching abroad for a time in Japan and China. She saw the program as an opportunity to gain experience in teacher training while looking for a new adventure in a country where she had never been. During the application and matching process, she highlighted her previous experiences working with students and colleagues from various backgrounds and adapting technology to different classroom contexts, in addition to being open to the challenge and privilege of representing the U.S. as an Asian-American.
After being matched to a project in Indonesia, Wang seized the opportunity to conduct workshops for local teacher training organizations, to create culturally relevant projects for English skills courses at her host university, and to work with EducationUSA and Indonesian U.S. exchange program alumni. Along the way, she also learned that “unexpected challenges mean unexpected growth,” an idea with which many Fellows can relate. In representing the U.S. as an Asian-American, Wang found it at times frustrating to have to explain her complicated family history every time, but she reminded herself that each time was an opportunity to share her immigrant roots, to mention Native Americans and indigenous culture in the U.S., and to explain that the U.S., like Indonesia, is a country of great diversity. Now that her fellowship is complete, Wang plans to use the flexibility, resourcefulness, and relationship building that she practiced in her fellowship to teach abroad and seek adventures in new countries and cultures.