Camilla Fuller ’19, of Portland, Oregon, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Thailand.
Fuller is a sociology major and education minor with experience in teaching, facilitating, and mentoring. While at Colorado College, she worked in a Colorado Springs public elementary school as a teaching assistant and in a local high school as a public achievement coach.
In her role as an achievement coach, she worked with a group of students two days a week, helping them design a project for change in their community. In doing so she developed a lesson she called “life essays,” in which students wrote about ways their lives specifically related to the project, which in turn motivated them to be more engaged in their learning. Fuller says she hopes to build on the success of that experience.
In Thailand, Fuller will be placed in a public school to teach English. In addition to her teaching duties, as part of the grant Fuller will spend significant time learning Thai customs, culture, and language. “As a Fulbright ETA in Thailand, I want to continue to incorporate students’ life experiences into lessons so that they take ownership in their learning,” she says. “This could be done through short English writing assignments where the students write about things in their lives that inspire them.”
She has taken a variety of education courses and served as a co-facilitator for a faculty training retreat, where she collaborated with CC Department of Education faculty members to develop workshops on inclusive teaching methods.
“My first experience dedicating myself to language was as a middle school student in Vietnam where I studied Mandarin and Vietnamese," Fuller says. "Seeking fuller immersion, I went on to study Nepali with a host family in Nepal as an undergraduate.”
While living in Vietnam, Fuller traveled occasionally to Thailand. Having received the Fulbright to Thailand, she says, “I’m excited to be living in Thailand because its people and culture have always inspired me. I believe that a central part of being a good educator is being someone who is fully engaged in the community. As an educator in Thailand, I plan on being an active participant in the school community and the community that surrounds it.”
Her experience with languages has exposed her to a variety of teaching and learning methods: She studied Mandarin, learning it by rote for eight years, and participated in an intensive language program in Nepal where she was exposed to successful language acquisition methods.
Together, those experiences “have made me confident in planning and delivering lessons, managing the classroom environment and coaching and mentoring students,” she says. “My primary goal in Thailand is to serve the needs of the Thai students in my classroom.”
“Living in different cultures can be disorienting for me because it sometimes feels like the place takes my identity, scrambles it up and rearranges it into a new form. While living in Vietnam and Nepal I learned that in order to make sense of my identity in new cultures, I had to first make sense of the place I was in. I now know that a sense of belonging comes through establishing relationships founded on patience and an understanding of the local language.” That belief, she says, will guide her as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Thailand.
Fuller is one of a record 12 Colorado College Fulbright semifinalists this year.