Taiwan times two
Fulbright Scholarship awardee Gabby Watson’21 heads off to Taiwan soon to teach kids English.
For Gabrielle Watson’21, the opportunity to travel and study has been a long-time dream.
That dream is even closer now that she’s received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. Watson will travel to Taiwan to work on “initiating an intercultural exchange with students of Taiwan to build a world in which people are (hopefully) more understanding of one another.”
It’s the second time that Watson will be living in Taiwan. The first was as a high schooler in Taipei, the country’s modern metropolis. In August, she will start teaching at a school in the rural province of Taidong.
Watson began the Fulbright application process during her junior year at Beloit but ended up postponing the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watson is an international relations and Chinese double major and anthropology minor graduate. She originally learned of the program from a teacher when she was a high school senior and participated in the Rotary Youth Exchange in Taiwan. She was later reminded of the opportunity by Professor of Political Science Rachel Ellett. “I’ve always aspired to spend a large portion of my life abroad, but money has frequently been an obstacle, so Fulbright has granted me the ability to continue to pursue my dreams of traveling while simultaneously helping me prepare for my future,” Watson says.
After almost a year-long application process and months of awaiting a response, Watson was surprised to learn she was a finalist. She says she had been trying not to get her hopes up, even though those around her had been singing her praises as a perfect candidate. “Now that I have it, I feel extremely honored. It’s a privilege to be able to have an opportunity to network with other Fulbright alumni, travel the island, and be trusted to teach/engage with children whose first impressions of the United States might be political gossip or High School Musical,” she says.
She says Beloit College prepared her for the Fulbright experience with professors opening her eyes to social issues and new ideas. She also picked up teaching skills as an Upward Bound and Writing Center tutor. Those skills, she says, will be valuable in teaching English in Taiwan, something she feels will allow her to give back to the people who were so welcoming.
Watson is excited to create life-long friendships during this experience and to reflect on how she has grown since the last time she resided on the island. “Having graduated college with a semi-cohesive plan of what I want to do with my life but no real idea as of how to get there, I’m also hoping the experience will provide me with a sense of direction or alternative pathways to spontaneously follow.”
Since the Fulbright Program started in 1946 more than 400,000 students, teachers, artists, scholars, and other professionals have connected with people from around the world to foster understanding and work toward common goals. Learn about previous Beloit College Fulbright recipients.