Alma College senior Chelsea Duff has been awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to teach English to elementary students in South Korea.
Duff becomes Alma’s 23rd Fulbright Scholar since 2003. A graduate of Marlette High School, she is the daughter of Roger and Kimberly Duff.
“This is a rare opportunity; most countries ask for English teaching assistants for high school or college students,” says Duff. “South Korea, however, has made it mandatory for students to begin learning English at a young age to make them competitive in a globalized world. After a six-week training period, I will teach English for approximately 20 to 30 hours per week in a high-needs-area elementary school. I also hope to a work with children in some other capacity, such as in after school programs or orphanages.”
Duff, an elementary education major, has actively sought to form relationships with people from other cultures during her time at Alma College. She became interested in the South Korean educational system after learning about the College Scholastic Ability Test, a competitive standardized exam that helps determine whether South Korean students are granted the opportunity to attend college.
“I hope to use this experience to develop innovative approaches in my future classroom and inspire children to explore the world around them,” says Duff. “As a Christian, learning about South Korea’s diverse spiritual background—including indigenous religions, Shamanism, Confucianism, Buddhism and Christianity—and how these differing beliefs come together to form Korea’s values, is also fascinating to me.”
Following her yearlong Fulbright experience, Duff plans to attend graduate school, become a reading specialist and teach in areas struck by rural poverty.
“Reading has opened up so many doors to me and is one of the things I love the most,” says Duff. “I want to give struggling readers the one-on-one attention they need to succeed in reading and inspire them to truly enjoy it.
“Winning a Fulbright Scholarship such an honor, and I can’t wait to have this amazing experience,” says Duff. “It is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and a dream come true.”
Student applications for the Fulbright Scholarship are reviewed and approved by the National Screening Committee of the Institute of International Education, the coordinating body for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The applications are forwarded to the Fulbright commissions in the projects’ countries, which select recipients from all candidates applying in those countries. The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board makes the final selections.
The U.S. Student Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State to give recent undergraduate and graduate students, as well as young professionals, a chance for an international experience and personal development.
Alma’s Nationally Competitive Scholarship Committee helps finalists search for appropriate postgraduate scholarships, then reviews the proposals and applications. Alma’s committee identifies and nurtures exceptional candidates for nationally competitive scholarships, grants and awards.