ONIF Student Spotlight
January 21, 2022
Name: Carlo Juntilla
Degree: MA Educational Policy and Leadership
Graduation Date: May 2020
Fellowship Award: Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Taiwan
What are your current or future career plans? I aspire to be a life-long educator, and hope to use my experiences in the classroom to inform a career as an education policy maker or administrator.
What have you enjoyed most about the program? Collaborating with local teachers has been the highlight of my experience in Taiwan thus far! Since joining a team of 5 local teachers, I’ve had the chance to learn new pedagogical skills, reflect on my own teaching practice, and develop a new approach to culturally responsive teaching that I will carry with me into my classrooms in the future.
What has been the most challenging aspect of the program? I’ve struggled with unlearning many of the expectations or ideas of what education should look like while teaching in Taiwan. By taking a step-back and acknowledging how my previous experiences as a student and teacher in the US has influenced my biases, I have a unique opportunity to learn and appreciate a different approach to education. However, this hasn’t been an easy process, but it has been rewarding by giving me an opportunity to grow as an educator.
How has Covid-19 impacted your experience? COVID-19 has impacted my experience ever since I received acceptance in the program, by delaying my start date by 2 months. Once I arrived in Taiwan, I underwent some of the most severe COVID prevention methods in the world, undergoing a strict hotel quarantine where I was not permitted to leave my room for 2 weeks, and presenting 2 negative COVID tests and a full round of vaccinations. However, once I was released from quarantine, I felt a sense of ease knowing that I was entering a society that has been able to resume normal operations for nearly two years and has effectively kept COVID at bay since the beginning of the pandemic.
What advice do you have for future applicants? My advice for future applicants is to develop core goals and values that will guide your Fulbright experience. The challenges of living and teaching in a new country make it easy to become overwhelmed. As a Fulbright recipient, we have two major responsibilities: to support English instruction and to be a cultural ambassador. Fulfilling both of these responsibilities compelled me to be reflective of what I hoped to accomplish while in Taiwan. However, by having goals and values that have guided me throughout this process, I’ve found it much easier to find activities and communities that support my health and personal and professional growth.
What would people be surprised to know about you? I came to Taiwan with no experience in learning Mandarin Chinese! Once I got to Taiwan, I started taking classes and tutoring to develop my language ability. I’ve found that by learning the local language, you can form an even deeper appreciation for the unique culture and community that you’re surrounded by.
Captions from top to bottom: Releasing sky lanterns in Pingxi, Taiwan. Teaching 2nd Graders at Dazhi Elementary in Taipei, Taiwan.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. For more information, visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/, or contact ONIF.