Pooley Earns Fulbright Scholarship for Work in South Korea
Alma College senior Aaron Pooley of Reed City was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to teach English in South Korea and conduct research for the South Korean government.
Pooley will leave for South Korea on July 3 and return to the United States in July 2010. Once in Korea, he will undergo an intensive six-week training course to learn about the South Korean school system and also learn the Korean language. Once the school year starts, he will be teaching English to high school students.
In South Korea, students are in school up to 12 hours a day, and then go home and continue their studies with the help of tutors. Only the top students have a chance at entering a university, which is run on a lottery system.
“The students spend a tremendous amount of time working to be the best because there is no guarantee that they will get into university,” Pooley says. “Much of their education is focused around memorization. I hope to bring a little of Alma with me and try some interactive learning.”
He will also be working on research for the South Korean government. In 2006, South Korea eliminated a line in its Constitution granting preference to those who descended from Korean bloodlines to encourage diversity in the nation.
With education being so competitive, it is even harder for ethnic minorities who live in South Korea to get into university.
“I was fascinated with South Korean history and how oppressed they have been over the years — they’ve had to be very protective of their culture in order to survive,” he says. “Reading the articles from 2006, people were flabbergasted by the change — it will be interesting to see the reception I get when I start asking questions.”
Pooley will interviews parents, students and administrators to gain an overall perception of the change, and also to assess if the change is working.
He is the son of Robert and Dawn Pooley and Alma College’s 14th Fulbright scholar since 2003.
This award is the culmination of months of work. Pooley met with Nationally Competitive Scholarship Committee chair Dr. Sandy Hulme, professor of political science, every day, morning and afternoon, for two months to complete his application and design a research proposal. He also had to submit three letters of recommendation.
The entire process took almost six months — after two months of preparation, he submitted his application, which had to be reviewed and approved by the National Screening Committee of the Institute of International Education, the coordinating body for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. They forward applications on to the host country, which then makes its selections. 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.
Posted: Tue, March 31st, 2009 at 4:43PM