Katie Kasten (’14)
has become the 15th student and 29th individual from the Loras College community to have been awarded a Fulbright grant. Through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program, Kasten will begin a 10-month assignment teaching English in Malaysia, beginning in January 2015.
The ETA program is sponsored and managed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Fulbright ETAs are placed in classrooms abroad to assist in strengthening English language instruction while providing insights on American culture. At the same time, U.S. participants experience intensive cross-cultural interaction in an international educational setting. The ETA selection is a competitive national process: only one hundred applicants were selected from the 366 who applied for Fulbright ETA grants to Malaysia.
“I will be representing the country as a cultural ambassador, as well as helping to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the people in Malaysia through teaching English as a second language,” Kasten explained. “I will specifically be working with the Malaysian-American Commission on Education Exchange while teaching in a public school within the states of Terengganu, Pahang or Johor for a full academic year. It is because of my experiences at Loras that I was accepted into the Fulbright Program and that I am choosing to serve in Malaysia.”
Kasten will earn her bachelor’s degree in English literature with endorsements in secondary and special education from Loras in May 2014. Through her time at Loras, she has actively participated in the Breitbach Catholic Thinkers and Leaders program and co-founded the DuBuddies program, pairing Loras students with Dubuque community members who have intellectual disabilities, to encourage the creation of authentic relationships with this population. Kasten also credits experiences through her coursework for framing her desire to apply for this Fulbright award.
“It is because of my experiences through the Division of Education that I believe education must be used as a way for students to cultivate ‘voice’ through analyzing how they might contribute to aiding and solving local and global issues in society. As I enter into the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, I hope to help students in Malaysia and America have a profound understanding of the value of mutual understanding among cultures. I specifically hope to learn more about the education of women in Malaysia and how this model of inclusivity might enrich my understanding of creating communities that embrace marginalized groups. The formation of identity is dependent on community and I hope to understand how this impacts the people of Malaysia,” she said.
“The Fulbright program’s aim to “promote mutual understanding” is increasingly important in our global society. The ETA program is an excellent opportunity for graduating seniors like Katie to not only positively represent the United States elsewhere in the world but to also bring back home the kinds of insights into other ways of life that best occur by living and working in a very different community,” explained Kathleen Jeffries,
Loras Fulbright Advisor. “Loras College has been blessed with an impressive number of students who have been inspired to seek out and obtain internationally-based service and leadership opportunities like the Fulbright—a testimony, I believe, to how deeply they embody, both personally and professionally, the best aspects of our liberal arts mission.”