“I Didn’t Think Americans Could Look Like You”: Reflections on Being a Fulbrighter of Color

July 17th, 2017

Written by Nikki Brueggeman (ETA 2015-17)


Wanted: Foreigner model for tourism advertisement. White only, please.

I glanced over the ad posted on the foreigner Facebook page for the city of Jeonju. What followed was a tense discussion in the community about the ad’s content with the original poster finally declaring, “stop bringing your [western] ideas of race into this. Korea is different!”

For me, it was another Tuesday in Jeonju. South Korea, like every nation faces challenges when it comes to dialogues surrounding race, culture, and immigration. While I count my positive moments much higher than my negatives, I consider the narratives of people of color as essential to Fulbright Korea’s history.

The author with a doll found in a hostel in Seoul, South Korea.

Since its conception, Fulbright Korea has been a space of cultural exchange and through it people of color have shown communities the complexities of identity within American culture. While we face challenges, it is in these moments that Fulbrighters of Color step forward to humanize the situation and expand dialogues.

Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

July 17th, 2017

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing Summit Shah (ETA ’04-’05) and Ray Sawyer (ETA ’13-’14), who generously offered to share their insight on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work they do today.

Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

April 18th, 2017

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing Julia Bach (ETA ’06-’07), who generously offered to share her insights on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work she does today.

Julia Bach, ETA 2006


What is your occupation/future occupation?
Since graduating college, I have been involved in the field of education-very much with a global focus. Since completing my year in Korea, I have taught in the US, gotten my masters in International Education Policy, worked with teachers in India and taught in Malawi. I am in the process of applying for further studies and know that living and working abroad will continue to be an important part of my life. 

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Accept invitations that people extend to you. Spending time with your co-teacher, host family and other colleagues is a wonderful opportunity to see and do things you would not have the chance to do otherwise. 

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
In the last 10 years, I have spent more time living and working outside of the US than within it. I think my year in Korea solidified my passion for exploring the world. I was always interested in education, but my experience as an ETA, working within a school with a number of talented colleagues, taught me that there are so many different approaches to education and teacher learning. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
It has been a while, but I remember two types of challenges. One was related to work: I was a novice teacher and desperately trying to maintain the attention and engagement of 35 six year olds. I had some wonderful suggestions and valuable input from the classroom teachers which helped enormously. It was also challenging to constantly play catch-up with conversations and situations. Because of my students, I did learn quite a bit of Korean, but fast paced adult conversations made my head spin.

What is your favorite memory from Korea?
I had such fun with my colleagues. I remember chaperoning field trips and having my numbers read, enjoying dinners after work and making kimchi with colleagues. They graciously included me in the life of the school which made the experience very special. I also lived with a host family where the little girl was learning to read. I would strategically sit next to her mom when it was story time so I could also practice my reading.

What is your favorite quote?
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela

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

Researcher Spotlight: Katelyn Hemmeke

January 21st, 2017

PC: Andrew Le from http://www.drewle.com/

Can you provide a small bio that outlines your hometown, education background, and a fun fact?
I grew up in Hamilton, Michigan, a rural town on the west side of the state. I earned my BA in English, Spanish and French from Hope College and my MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Fun fact: I once met G-Dragon’s dad.

Can you describe your research? How are you usingpersonal narratives as a method of empowerment?
My research focuses on Korean transnational adoptees and their experiences with birth family search and reunion. The birth family search process is quite difficult and most people aren’t able to find their birth families; a recent article in the Korea Herald stated that from 2012-2015, only 14.7% of the nearly 5,000 adoptees who searched during those three years were able to reunite with their birth families, and that’s one of the highest statistics I’ve read regarding birth family search success rates. I’m interested in seeing if I can pinpoint anything about the birth family search process that might shed light on ways to improve post-adoption services and increase adoptees’ chances of finding their birth families. As a literature scholar, I’m also interested in discourse analysis and the ways adoptees utilize their personal narratives as acts of personal empowerment and/or political resistance. Adoption discourse has long been constructed and controlled by adoption agencies and adoptive parents, with the voices of adoptees and birth families kept in silence. It’s pretty fascinating to analyze the ways that adoption agencies and adoptive parents use language to perpetuate these kinds of power structures — and the ways that adoptees use language to push back.

What inspired you to choose this research?
I’m a Korean-American adoptee myself, so I obviously feel personally invested in anything having to do with adoption issues. There’s not much research out there regarding birth family search and reunion, particularly the latter. The media tends to display a very one-dimensional image of birth family reunion — a sentimental moment in which the long-lost birth mother and adoptee tearfully embrace, and after that, they live happily ever after. However, it’s much more complicated than that due to the language and cultural barriers that often stand between transnational adoptees and birth families, and the story doesn’t end with that single moment of reunion. The adoptee and family have to continue navigating their relationships — with each other, with the rest of their family members — and all the trauma they’ve suffered from their separation doesn’t magically disappear just because they’ve reunited. No one really talks about how hard and complicated all of that can be, which is why I hope to shed some light in adoptees’ own words through their personal narratives.

This picture is from my last few days as an ETA. My students always worked so hard and showed me so much love — I’m so lucky to have had the chance to spend two years with them!” –Katelyn Hemmeke

How does it feel returning to Korea after being an ETA? Can you describe a little about your experience as an ETA?
I love being back in Korea. This isn’t my first time back since my ETA days — I came back once for my students’ graduation and another time to study Korean through the CLS Program — but it’s wonderful to be back for a longer period of time. It’s fun to revisit some of my favorite places, but it’s also mind-boggling to see how quickly things keep changing here.

I also loved being an ETA and have so many great memories from those two years. It was so fulfilling to work with fellow ETAs on projects like Infusion, YDAC, and FEIP. And teaching my Korean students is one of the most rewarding things I’ll ever do. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, and they continue to inspire me with their utter brilliance, unfailing work ethic, and genuine warmth.

What do you hope to do with this research? What are some of your future goals?
The big dream is to publish a book. I may go on for a Ph.D someday, but for now I think I’d like to work in editing or publishing, as well as continue to write essays and creative nonfiction.

What do you do in your spare time in Korea?
I’m taking intensive Korean language classes at Ewha, so that occupies a lot of my time. I love exploring Korea — there’s so much to do and see just in Seoul, but intercity travel is one of my favorite aspects of living in Korea because it’s so easy and cheap. I also try to stay pretty active among the adoptee organizations by going to their events and volunteering whenever opportunities arise. Most of the time, though, you can find me in a café somewhere reading, writing, or studying.

Do you have any advice for ETAs or those interested in conducting research in Korea?
Keep your ear to the ground for events and lectures happening around the city that are relevant to your research interests. Even events that aren’t directly related to your research interests are still worth attending, because you never know who you might meet there. Happy to talk to anyone interested in contacting me!

What’s your favorite part about living in Seoul?
There’s always something going on — maybe too much! There’s never enough time to attend all of the cool events happening here.


Katelyn Hemmeke is a current Junior Researcher with Fulbright Korea and also earned a grant as a Fulbright Korea ETA between  2012-2014.

Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

October 22nd, 2016

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing two ETAs with differing interests and career paths post Fulbright. Brett Fitzgerald and Sarah Chen (ETAs 2013-14) generously offered to share their insights on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work they do today.

Sarah Xiyi Chen, ETA 2013

What is your occupation/future occupation?
I am a second-year law student at Berkeley Law School, and I plan to litigate on behalf of plaintiffs after I graduate, hopefully in civil rights cases.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Well, I’m sure y’all have already heard “Don’t Compare,” so…find activities that sustain you over the long-haul. I loved teaching, but to stay focused and motivated over the year, I also studied for the LSAT, volunteered for Fulbrighter-led initiatives and local Naju events, and traveled on weekends with my friends and host family.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
As a cultural ambassador for the United States in the year that the Black Lives Matter movement grew, I often felt conflicted about my feelings towards my home country. The juxtaposition of living abroad and working in a small, tight-knit community like Naju made me realize I wanted to work in America to promote justice at a community level instead of working at the level of international diplomacy.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Few of the teachers at my school spoke English, and my Korean didn’t advance far beyond Jungwon’s basic beginner level. The communication barriers between me and much of the rest of the school became especially apparent after the Sewol ferry tragedy in the spring of my ETA year. I wish I could have been more understanding and involved at that time of grief and protest.

What is your favorite memory from Korea?
A year and a half after we left our Fulbright Korea year behind, fellow ETA Preston Nanney and I went back to Korea for the first time since, where he proposed on the beach at Haeundae, Busan!

What is your favorite quote?
“Immigrants–we get the job done.”


Brett Fitzgerald, ETA 2013

What is your occupation/future occupation?
I currently work in San Francisco at MuleSoft as an Account Development Representative. I’m planning on studying for the GMAT and going to business school sooner rather than later. From there I hope to own my own company.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Love your students and appreciate your time in Korea with the other ETAs. It flies by way too fast. If you laugh off the little idiosyncrasies and small things you will be much happier. Travel and explore often.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
My life’s work is still very much “buffering”, as my students would say. However, I can already tell Fulbright Korea will be a source of inspiration, friendship, and love in my life for years to come, which will unquestionably continue to impact my personal journey.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
The Korean language.

What is your favorite memory from Korea?
Too many to only pick one, but if I had to, my favorite memory in the classroom with my students was teaching them about ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge 18 times in the span of 1 week during the winter. I was very cold with lots of laundry to do, in addition to having the entire faculty thinking I was crazy by the end of the week.

What is your favorite quote?
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” -Jackie Robinson

Beyond Fulbright: Harvard HGSE Alumnae Earn Prestigious Award

July 12th, 2016

It’s neither a surprise nor a secret that members of the Fulbright community go on to do impressive things. Fulbright Korea ETA alumnae Elaine Townsend (2012-2014), a recent Master’s degree recipient from Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), earned a prestigious award in her fields of study. As detailed on the school’s website, the HGSE Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award “recognizes 13 students (one from each Ed.M. program) whose dedication to scholarship enhanced the academic life of the community and positively impacted their fellow students. The honorees were nominated by fellow master’s students based on who inspired them, impressed them, and contributed to their own learning throughout the year.

Elaine Townsend (ETA 2012-14) with students

Elaine Townsend (ETA 2012-14) with students

Townsend , who was previously featured on our website, completed her Master’s degree in education from HGSE’s Technology, Innovation, and Education program. After marrying her boyfriend of five years, Townsend will return to her alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, she will lead curriculum development for the school’s Scholars’ Latino Initiative (SLI) program. The program provides mentorship for Latino high school students.

During her time in Korea, Townsend taught at the Attached Elementary School of Kyungpook National University in Daegu. She utilized technology in the classroom for both managerial aspects and in-class activities, such as student-directed music videos.

Using technology in my classroom opened doors for me to study the intersectionality of technology and education at Harvard,” Townsend said. “Here, my peers and I challenged ourselves to solve large problems within our education system by further examining the digital landscape of our current society.

Townsend’s innovation in the classroom while in Korea clearly primed her for continued success at graduate school. Townsend was also grateful to her students, host family, peers, and co-teachers for the inspiration and encouragement to pursue her field of study. The teaching experience and personal connections that Townsend established during her two years in Korea have left their mark on her. In the same way, Townsend has left her own mark on the Harvard community.

Alumni Spotlight: Where Are They Now?

July 8th, 2016

The FKAR team had the privilege of interviewing 7 former ETAs working in a variety of fields, including law, academia, writing, marketing, psychology, education policy, and business. Dr. Aaron Pooley, Ben West, Christina Brittain Hatinoglu, Kenzie Grubitz Simpson, and Fulbright sweethearts, Evan Ho and Dr. Jennifer Tang generously offered to share their insights on the Fulbright experience and its impact on the work they do today.

Dr. Aaron Pooley, ETA 2009


What is your current occupation?
I currently serve as an assisting professor in the department of English language and literature at Soonchunhyang University (SCHU) in Asan, Korea. After completing my masters degree in applied linguistics from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), I started at SCHU and began preparing my PhD program in linguistics. Both USQ and SCHU have been supportive towards my study and research goals. I currently lecture on English phonetics and phonology, children’s literature and communicative competence.aaron

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Keep a varied network of friends and acquaintances. It’s easy to form relationships within the ETA program and spend time with other ETAs—especially if they are placed in the same city as you. It’s also easy to get locked into free-time activities in or nearby your placement city. But the ETA grant year is too short to be limited by either. Find out if you have alumni from your home university living in Korea, volunteer outside your placement city, join a language exchange. The options are out there to be discovered.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
Becoming an ETA set a chain of events in motion that—without Fulbright—might never have happened. As an ETA in Korea, my life and my studies are situated in the Asia-Pacific region and influence the research I explore and the career path that lies ahead of me. Korea, as a researcher, is an exciting place to be. In terms of language policies, intercultural communication—the forces of globalization are at work and with those forces enter greater mobility for visitors coming to Korea for the first time and some of the world’s newest mobile devices, applications, and interactive media.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Leaving orientation and entering a teaching environment coupled with a homestay… those early days brought with them much unknown. I think finding my role at the school and in the homestay—this was the biggest challenge as an ETA.

What is your favorite Korean food?

I change my mind regularly on which Korean food I enjoy most—but my current favorite is a spicy fish porridge, served either with homemade dumplings or ramen. Every Sunday I hit the golf range for a couple hours then head over to a restaurant famous for this dish in Seonga, on the outskirts of Cheonan. Fish porridge…it’s spicy, strange and wonderful.

What is your current state of mind?

It’s spring in Korea—one of the country’s most beautiful seasons. Though there’s plenty of work to be done, it’s important to enjoy the sunshine and the rain—see the green and low lying clouds over the mountains. All is good.


Ben West, ETA 2012


What is your current occupation?
Currently, I am a quantitative research analyst at the American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations. I work on several large-scale evaluations of policies and programs related to educator evaluation and performance. This September, I will return to Harvard University, where I’ll pursue a Ph.D. in Education Program and Policy Evaluation. 

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
I would encourage current ETA’s to really begin to take stock of their skills, interests, and values to begin planning the career that they would like to have before applying to various graduate programs. A roadmap for your future can help you to avoid unwise investments of your time and resources, and lead to a greater sense of meaning in your work.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
I applied to the program to learn more about factors that contributed to the Korean education system’s success. I gained insight into the emphasis placed on education at a societal level, but also learned about some of the nuances that many foreigners are not aware of, including major educational inequities (e.g. differential access to high-quality tutoring) and the adverse effects of the all-work, no-play mentality on children (e.g. Korean 11- to 15-year-olds report the greater amounts of stress than their peers in other developed countries, and suicide is a leading cause of death among teens). Learning about these nuances has helped me to think more carefully about Korea’s education system and what the U.S. can learn from it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
I joined the Fulbright program after completing a two-year commitment with Teach for America in New York City. Initially, I found it rather difficult to transition from living independently to living with nearly 100 ETA’s and then a host family, but in time, I began to appreciate the incredible relationships that the experience allowed me to build.

 What is your favorite Korean food? What are your thoughts on kimchi?
My favorite Korean food is 삼겹살, though 김치 comes in a close second.

Who are your heroes in real life?
U.S. President Barack Obama, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, and of course, Mrs. Jai Ok Shim, who I admire for her dedication, commitment, and vision for the Fulbright program in Korea. A number of friends who completed Fulbright grants in other countries have heard about our program’s excellence, and have even referred to it as the “gold standard.” I think that we all have Mrs. Shim to thank for that!


Christina Brittain Hatinoglu, ETA 2006

What is your current occupation?
I am a capital markets associate in the London office of Latham & Watkins LLP.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
Stay in touch with your host family after you leave the program.  I lost touch with mine for several years and was only able to reconnect with my wonderful homestay sister after enlisting the help of former students online.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
After living in Korea, I knew that I wanted to live and work in Asia. I eventually ended up in Europe, but being an ETA probably contributed to my being open to moving to new international settings. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
I found it very hard to come up with new and interesting lesson plans every week. I relied heavily on the shared ETA lesson bank.

What is your favorite Korean food? What are your thoughts on kimchi?
My favorite Korean food varies day to day, but 낙지볶음 (spicy octopus) is always good.  I grew up eating kimchi and feel like it makes almost any meal better. 

Who are your heroes in real life?
One of my college professors is an incredible First Amendment lawyer with a distinguished career. More importantly he is a very generous parent, friend, and mentor.


Kenzie Grubitz Simpson, ETA 2004


What is your current occupation?
I work for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, mainly as a grant writer and language revitalization consultant. I’m also a mother.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
I’ll pass along the best advice I received while I was an ETA: love your students. They will show you everything you need to know.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
It helped me see how beautiful life is when you’re open to other cultures. 

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
Classroom management was really hard! Luckily, my co-teachers were very supportive. 

What is your favorite Korean food? What are your thoughts on kimchi?
My favorites are 죽 and 김밥, any kind. I love kimchi. I’ve got my husband hooked on 김치붂음밥, and if I could go back and eat more of my host mom’s 김치찌개, I’d be in heaven.


Lauren Hong, ETA 2007


What is your current occupation?
President/Owner of Out & About Communications (outandaboutcommunications.com), a full-service marketing firm in San Diego, CA.

What is your biggest piece of advice for a current ETA?
My advice for a current ETA is to really embrace the experience. It can feel like a jump in the deep end when you find yourself living in another country. However, there is a lot of strength in feeling uncomfortable, challenging yourself, and pushing beyond limits. Embrace it.

How did your experience as an ETA impact your life’s work?
It’s difficult for me to imagine what my life would be like without my ETA experience. The experience launched me into my career, introduced me to close friends, and gave me a more global outlook.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as an ETA?
The most difficult challenge for me was leaving one extreme environment and transitioning into another totally different environment. When I first arrived in Korea, it was very unfamiliar. I felt like a kid again. I had to relearn language, cultural practices, and social norms. Not to mention, I had my patience challenged daily. These uncomfortable moments helped me to grow personally and professionally.

What is your favorite Korean food? What are your thoughts on kimchi?
Kimchi-chigae is my favorite. I love kimchi. I especially love kimchi on the BBQ grill. Yum!

What is your current state of mind?
Growing my marketing company, providing amazing work and personalized service to our clients, and spending time with my husband, Haney.


Evan Ho and Dr. Jennifer Tang, ETA Sweethearts 2005


What are your current occupations?
Evan: Wealth Management Advisor, TIAA, Ann Arbor, MI 

Jennifer: Licensed psychologist at Cypress Counseling Center, Ann Arbor, MI

What are your biggest pieces of advice for current ETAs?
Evan: Enjoy every minute, it goes by so quickly. Do as many things as you can, build friendships with as many people as you can, and put yourself out of your comfort zone. 

Jennifer: Evan summed it up well. Make friends with the locals and get to know their lived experiences. Korean students often seem enamored with the American culture and English language, so it can be easy to talk with them about that. However, it is even more enriching to also learn from them about their experiences. Also make time to travel and explore both urban and rural parts of the country. Oh, and stock up on all the cute stationery too 😉

How did your experiences as an ETA impact your life’s work?
E: As a Financial Adviser, teaching/presenting financial concepts and learning how to understand and connect with people of different backgrounds were things that were developed while being a ETA in Gwangju. 

J: As a psychologist, when working with my clients, I try to understand how their different experiences and upbringings have shaped their identity, their values, and how they see and interpret the world. My experience as an ETA has helped me to learn more about other worldviews and lived experiences that can shape someone’s personality and mindset.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as ETAs?
E: Being away from home for a year and away from your normal routine and friends was challenging. It was a balance of making the most of the time in Korea and knowing that you’d have ties back at home and transitioning back. 

J: It was an interesting experience for me being Chinese living in Korea, so phenotypically I looked like a native, but it was hard for the natives to cognitively grasp when I would tell them in Korean that I was American, my parents are Chinese. One good thing that came from that though is that I learned more Korean!

What are your favorite Korean foods? What are your thoughts on kimchi?
E: Yukgaejang. I love kimchi! We even recently tried making some ourselves. 

J: I love all things kalbi. Actually some of the things I miss most from Korea, though, were the different seasonal fruit, especially their super sweet strawberries.  

 What do you consider your greatest achievement?
J: Getting my PhD and becoming licensed as a psychologist has been quite the journey! It was definitely a marathon, but it is so great to finally get to practice what I’ve been training for the past several years! It’s hard to pick just one “greatest” accomplishment though. Having our baby has been an amazing and humbling experience too. Also traveling to over 30 countries together with Evan has been priceless.

What is your current state of mind?
E: Because of my experience abroad with Fulbright Korea, I have a love for different cultures and traveling. I’m hoping as a new father, I’m able to teach this appreciation to our daughter, Genevieve.

Featured Alumni: Chelle Jones

February 13th, 2016


Chelle Jones entered her Fulbright grant with a curiosity for learning – learning the Korean language, Korean history, and about human rights movements in the Korean peninsula. As an undergraduate in history at the University of Chicago, Jones became interested in the Gwangju Uprising of 1980. Embracing her placement in Gwangju as an ETA, her motivation to pursue graduate studies on Korea intensified.

Jones remained in Korea and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Korean Studies from Seoul National University. The opportunity to continue to study the Korean language and participate as an observer in contemporary social movements  allowed Jones access to additional relevant background knowledge. As she became more confident in the language, she dug deeper into other civil rights movements throughout Korea, learning from the adoptee, unwed mother, and queer communities.

Featured Alumni: Zoe Gioja

December 3rd, 2015

Zoe poses with a group of her middle school students.

Zoe Gioja: Founder of Fulbridge

Each month, FKAR talks with program alumni to learn about how they are pursuing their careers, personal interests, and how their Fulbright Korea experience has prepared them for their next steps.

This month, FKAR reached out to Zoe Gioja, a 2014-15 ETA in Mokpo, who is working on a newly-founded initiative aimed at connecting Fulbright ETAs across the globe. Zoe offers insight for current grantees while explaining her ideas behind Fulbridge.