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Grad granted Fulbright

Megan Loney | Monday, August 29, 2011

Saint Mary’s graduate Rachael Chesley has already lived abroad in Rome and South Korea, but she expects her time in Malaysia through the U.S. Fulbright Student Scholarship Program to bring a different kind of “culture shock.”

“Chances are that the area I will be placed in will have never hosted or let alone seen a Western individual before,” she said. “In addition, I am the only westerner in my school, and there is a strong chance I will be the only Westerner in my village.”

Chesley, who graduated in May with a degree in business administration, will head to Malaysia in January to begin her English Teaching Assistantship.

Although she will not find out her exact location until late September, Chesley has requested to be placed in rural Malaysia, and will be working in a small Islamic community.

She said she welcomes the opportunity for new experiences.

“The biggest adjustments will be learning to ride a motorbike to get around, adjusting to an Islamic community and being in a tropical climate,” she said.

While in Malaysia, Chesley will teach English and also be involved in cultural outreach activities within the community.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on their academic or professional achievements as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. Chesley is one of 1,600 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad through the program for the 2011-2012 academic year.

She said the Fulbright Program considers its participants “cultural ambassadors.”

“I am really enthused and excited about living in Malaysia,” she said. “Although of course there will be adjustments, I believe that Fulbright prepares us well enough to have the basic information needed to successfully adapt into the local community.”

As the 2010-2011 Saint Mary’s College student body president, Chesley has significant leadership experience. She also said her study abroad experiences in Rome and in South Korea helped prepare her for the Fulbright Program.

“My previous experiences abroad in Rome and Seoul will definitely benefit me as I am encountering a new culture,” she said. ” Living abroad previously allowed me to develop intercultural competence and the ability to adapt to new situations.”

She said she credits Saint Mary’s College for her academic and professional development.

“Saint Mary’s College provided me with the incredible people and fantastic resources that allowed me to grow and mature into an independent, confident woman who was excited to take the next step into the future,” she said in a press release by the College. “Saint Mary’s provided endless opportunities to get involved and overall, encouraged me to take on leadership roles and challenge myself whether on campus or abroad.”

Alice Siqin Yang, assistant director for global education at Saint Mary’s and the Fulbright program advisor, said she was excited about Chesley’s selection for the program.

“This is a great honor for Rachael and for Saint Mary’s College.” she said in the press release. “Rachel’s achievement is indicative of the educational quality and intercultural leadership training women receive here.”

Yang said she is confident that Chesley will be an excellent cultural ambassador in Malaysia.

“Rachael possesses strong professional and diplomatic skills,” she said. “She is energetic, curious, and open-minded in learning different cultures.”