Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

January 21st, 2017

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing three alumni with differing interests and career paths post Fulbright. Angela Eikenberry (ETA 1994-95), Ammy Yuan (ETA 2012-13), and Sammi Marcoux (ETA 2013-16) generously offered to share their insights on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work they do today.

Angela Eikenberry, ETA 1994-95

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
Year of grant: 1994-1995
Current position/location: Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Fulbright placement: Ulsan

Looking back, what is your most memorable moment in Fulbright Korea?
One of my most memorable moments was coming home to my host family in Ulsan and finding squid drying on the clothesline—not something you see very often in Nebraska!

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
I think it reinforced my interest in pursuing a master’s degree and doing something in public service—I eventually did a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on nonprofit management and then went on to get my PhD and now I’m a full professor. I also recently completed a Fulbright in the UK, studying giving collaboratives. None of that would have likely happened without my Fulbright ETA experience.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Living in another country and culture, far away from home was sometimes lonely. I’m not sure I always coped very well, but I did learn a lot about myself, which stays with me still.

What words of advice do you have for current ETAs in South Korea?
Take it easy with the soju! Seriously, exercise. I joined a local Hash House Harriers, which was one way I stayed active and kept the loneliness at bay.

Favorite quote to live by?
“When they go low, we go high.” ~ Michelle Obama
“If you’ve got a blacklist, I want to be on it.” ~ Billy Bragg

Ammy Yuan, ETA 2012-13

What is your current occupation? What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Management Consultant for A.T. Kearny Global Management Consulting Firm in San Francisco. Ultimately, I want to work for an organization that fights for victims of human trafficking.

What is your biggest piece of advice for current ETAs?
Roll with the punches. Life never goes as planned, and that’s actually a good thing as it keeps things interesting. Whether it’s your teaching lessons or your weekend plans, learn to adapt in any situation and see the glass as half full. 

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
Being an ETA has really permeated a lot of aspects of my life (case in point, I live with Fulbrighters and still travel with Fulbrighters to this day)…The skills I’ve accumulated from teaching in Korea have been useful in that I can speak confidently in front of groups, tailor my presentations depending on my audience, work with those from different cultures, etc…It has definitely made me more aware of the importance of education, foreign affairs, and the necessity of being open-minded.

What is the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
The biggest challenge I faced was learning how to communicate while taking into account all the different cultural nuances. Miscommunication and unintended offenses often led to unnecessary stressful situations. For example, within the first week of placement at my school, I had to say no to my Principal when he asked if I could teach additional weekly Saturday and Sunday classes. Unfortunately, I was not more careful about my words and it led to the Principal being offended, which led to me having to do damage control.

What is your favorite memory from Korea?
This is a tough question as I have so many great memories. I may have to name a few: Busan Film Festival with a bunch of the Fulbrighters; going on a weekend field trip with my students to Buyeo, Everland, and JobWorld; going on a Membership Training with my homestay family over Chuseok; and going off-trailing hiking with the 아저씨s from my school. 

Is there any funny anecdote you would like to share?
During my year, we created the first Fulbright KPop group as a joke. A group of Fulbrighters wanted to check out the famous salt farms and mudflats on Jeungdo Island… We were walking around exploring when we came across a torn down, broken umbrella on the beach and someone mentioned how it looked like it could be a photo shoot spot for a kpop group. Long story short, Dream Makers, aka DM for short, was born. Whenever we took pictures that weekend, we turned it into a photo shoot and it became a lasting inside joke for all involved. I still laugh when I look at this picture:

Sammi Marcoux, ETA 2013-16

Hometown: Denver, CO
Years of grant: 2013-2016
Current position/location: Visiting Professor at Jungwon University, Goesan, South Korea
Fulbright placement: Daejeon Saint Mary’s Girls High School (‘13- ‘14) and Jungwon University (‘14-‘16)

What is your most memorable moment in Fulbright Korea?
The first time Director Shim addressed my cohort. She told us, “If you love your students, everything else will fall into place.” And that is exactly what I did for my three years in Fulbright. I started every lesson with the intent of loving, encouraging, and connecting with my students. My students always knew that I was there for them when they needed me. My students always knew I loved them.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
I have become much more interested in English as a second/foreign language education and Korean as a foreign language education. My next goal is looking more closely at Korean studies and language education pedagogies, specifically in the realm of how Korea is contributing to foreign language education.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
I feel as though my biggest challenge as an ETA was adjusting to the professional work setting. It took a while for me to leave student mode, and switch to a professional mode that centered on how I can help and build others up around me.

What words of advice do you have for current ETAs in South Korea?
1. Learn to connect while you are here or better hone your connection skills if you already have a strong base. Connect in love, devoid of harsh judgment.
2. Think about when you need to speak up and when you need to listen more.

Favorite quote to live by?
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” ~Epictetus

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