By Tela Wittig
The Seton Hall Class of 2016 proudly produced three Fulbright scholars, all alumnae of the School of Diplomacy. One Diplo, Megan Ferguson, chose to spend her yearlong scholarship teaching English in Taiwan. Although Megan was only four weeks into her tenure, she took the time to share her experiences with the Envoy.
Megan has already found her place on the small island of Kinmen, where she is integrating herself in the community through her work as an English teaching assistant and tutor. In the Pirate spirit of servant leadership, Megan is volunteering at a local school, teaching English on the middle school and high school levels. She said this was the scariest part to her when she was planning her trip: “Real students would mean real expectations, and real children who would depend on me. It was scary, but also very exciting.” She quickly found, however, that the process of watching her students grow in confidence and understanding was truly rewarding.
When asked how she felt she was fitting into her new home, she said that her students really made the difference in her adjustment. It was clear that she has found her passion when she said, “Being able to talk to so many of them outside of class and to see their excitement to talk to me makes me feel like I am starting to belong here.”
Megan said that her volunteer work in the Don Bosco English as a Second Language program through the Seton Hall Division of Volunteer Efforts (DOVE) inspired her interest in demolishing the language barrier.
Megan’s seamless immersion in Taiwan is a reflection on how well the Chinese language department prepares students for the real world. Unsurprisingly, conversational Chinese in Taiwan is not exactly aligned with the Standard Mandarin that is taught here at Seton Hall; however, Megan insists that the instruction left her well-prepared.
She reflected on her years at Seton Hall in a positive light. “Studying with Seton Hall’s Chinese program encouraged me to see making mistakes as part of learning a language. Now, I’m not embarrassed to talk with people here, even when the conversation goes over my head, because I know I can get there if I keep studying,” she said.
The island of Kinmen offers Megan an intimate environment in which she definitely stands out, but she says this is also a positive part of her being there. Although she is an outsider, she uses that as an opportunity to bridge the culture gap, welcome questions, and forge lasting personal connections.
At the end of her yearlong scholarship, Megan plans to attend Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, where she has been awarded a full scholarship. There she will study constitutional and humanitarian law with the goal of working to protect civil liberties as they pertain to American national security policies.