Arkansas Tech University alumna Tina King has been selected as the first Fulbright Scholar from ATU. King will head to Nepal to work as a cultural ambassador teaching English. Before leaving, she visited with ATU about her experiences at ATU and what she hopes to gain during her time in Nepal. The highlights of that are provided below.
What did you study at ATU?
I studied Psychology and Rehabilitation Science with a minor in Social Services. I attended ATU from 2015 to 2018.
Why did you select ATU?
I still remember how at home I felt when I took the tour of ATU. My tour guide was Thamid, a young man from Bangladesh. We later became friends. I value diversity and community, and ATU felt like it offered what I was looking for – a diverse, close-knit community. I was lucky that I was right!
How did ATU prepare you for your future career and studies?
ATU gave me friends from around the world, and these friends became like family to me. In 2019, I was able to visit my ATU friends and their families in Nepal, Vietnam, and Japan. My friends’ willingness to host me gave me the courage and support to explore Asia. Since I stayed in their homes, I also was able to experience the culture in a way I would have been unable to do had I stayed in a hotel.
How did you become interested in the Fulbright program?
I attended and worked at Arkansas Governor’s School at Hendrix College. Two of my coworkers became Fulbright recipients. This gave me the confidence to apply, since I knew we had similar backgrounds. I am thankful for help from my brother and sister-in-law, Jordan and Megan King, my high school English teacher– April Tyree, and ATU’s Dr. Jason Warnick and his team. They all encouraged me throughout the process.
How did ATU support you in the application process?
Dr. Jason Warnick served as a mentor to me throughout the process. Even though I studied in the department he taught in, the Fulbright opportunity was the first time we met. We clicked right away! He reassured me that my experiences made me the perfect fit. He helped ensure I was ready by gathering a panel of professors to help in reviewing my application materials. They gave great insight and valuable feedback, and I had a stronger application because of their help.
What will you be doing as a Fulbright scholar?
I will be a cultural ambassador for the United States helping to encourage cultural exchange between these countries. I will learn about Nepal’s culture, and I will share the American culture. Specifically, I will do this by teaching English at a school in Nepal’s capital city of Kathmandu.
How long will you be there?
I will be in Nepal for Fulbright for 11 months, from March 15th to December 15th. Because my passion is Nepal and its people, my real dream would be to turn this opportunity into a career. I am being very open-ended about what my future looks like.
What excites you about this opportunity?
Everything excites me about this opportunity. I will get to visit all the people I met during my previous travels in Nepal. Some of my friends from China and Japan may also come to Nepal and visit me there. My heart is drawn to the country. I feel very homesick to get to return to Nepal. Specifically, I am looking forward to seeing the bright colors of Nepal, hearing the bustle on the streets, hearing the language, eating the food, and at last feeling at home again.
What makes you nervous about this opportunity?
I feel prepared for this opportunity, having taught English in Nepal and China. However, there are so many different expectations with each new teaching environment. I can’t help but feel a little bit nervous about this, but I know that I will be able to meet their expectations with time.
How are you preparing?
I stumbled upon a saree (the traditional dress) in a clothing store in Conway, Arkansas. It is so fancy that you could wear it at a wedding. I bought it and am beyond excited to wear it in Nepal. I also drink Nepali tea every other morning. My taste buds are ready to taste the varied and delicious foods of Nepal. I have let friends that I previously made in Nepal know that I am returning back to this country. A dear friend, someone I consider family, is already planning to meet me at the airport when I land.
As the first Fulbright Scholar who’s ever come from ATU—how do you hope to create a legacy at ATU?
The legacy I hope I am creating is reminding people that we are much more alike than we are different. While we have differences, such as ethnic background, ways we learn, age, how we identify, these are really all strengths because they help us. These differences and our different experiences help us enrich and improve our community. While we may be different, we can all learn to accept one another and appreciate where we each come from in life. My friends and I modeled this when I studied there at ATU. I hope to show people that respect, community, and valuing each individual is possible, and I think that would be a great legacy to leave.
For those interested in learning more about Tina King’s journey, she has provided her email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and is willing to answer questions about her experience.