In 2018, English major Esther Hagan named a Fulbright Scholar, one of the most prestigious academic honors awarded in the United States, and embarked on a journey teaching English in Taiwan for a year.
'... I really think education is the key to unlock a lot of opportunities in life.'
A Fulbright is a highly-selective, prestigious award for international study that aims to foster understanding between U.S. citizens and those of other countries. During their terms, Fulbright recipients live, work, learn and serve with people from his host country.
Hagan takes pride in earning the Fulbright, but also sees it as a big responsibility to put her opportunity to the best use.
“I want to take what I’ve learned and share that with others because I really think education is the key to unlock a lot of opportunities in life,” she said. “If I can help people who are marginalized unlock such a large door, that’s what I’d like to do.”
Born in the African nation of Ghana, Hagan has always been instilled with an appreciation for different cultures. Her Fulbright experience in Taiwan won’t be her first overseas. During her time at PBA she has traveled to China and to New Zealand through the David and Leighan Rinker Center for Experiential Learning. She’s spent time teaching English in China and studying in New Zealand, both of which had a major impact.
“It’s helped me grow and it’s shaped me,” she said. “The people are remarkable, the landscape is amazing, and the cultures are fascinating. It’s made me a better person to be able to learn from people with all types of backgrounds.”
Hagan saw the opportunity to teach at Taiwan’s Jin Ding Elementary School as a chance to learn and grow just as much as the students with whom she’ll be working.
“It’s really exciting. Not only can I teach these kids English and basic academic knowledge, I can learn from them how to have a more child-like yearning and appreciation for life and learning and appreciating new things.”