The time that Amy Christensen spent as a fellow has had a large impact on her personal and professional life. During her time as a fellow in China, Christensen worked on expanding the activities at the first Center for American Culture at Sichuan University in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. She also taught 20 hours a week and led teaching workshops and classes.
However, what Christensen enjoyed the most about her fellowship was the time that she spent traveling around to the different villages and universities in the region. She enjoyed being able to see educational settings so different from the big university in the city.
Christensen’s fellowship had a profound impact not only on her life, but on the lives of her family members as well. Her middle school-aged son and daughter lived with her in China for half of her fellowship. “For them, the fellowship was life changing. They had never really been out of the States before and it was an eye-opening experience.” Christensen’s daughter is now a sophomore in high school and taking Chinese classes. She hopes to study abroad there in college.
Being able to take her family was a big reason Christensen became a fellow. “I didn’t leave the country until I was 22, and I really wanted them to have that experience of knowing that there is a world out there and not be as homebound as I was.”
Christensen has made several important career moves since returning from her fellowship in China in 2012. Upon returning to the United States, she was offered the position of department chair at Central New Mexico Community College. With her experience doing curriculum development in China, she was quickly promoted to Associate Dean for the School of Adult and General Education. While she misses teaching in the classroom, Christensen says she enjoys the new challenge of being an administrator.
“Being a fellow gave me time to reassess things professionally,” Christensen said. “There are not a lot of programs like it for mid-career people like myself. It’s a great program for new teachers out of school, but it’s even better for people who have been teaching for 20 years and need to be reinvigorated.”