Anna Treesara, Lane alumni, awarded Fulbright Scholarship

 

By Walker Post

 

Anna Treesara, Lane Alumni Class of ’09, received the email in April that she had been awarded a chance to be a part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program to teach in Thailand.

Fulbright Scholarships provide funds for college students to study or teach abroad all over the world. Each year, the program sends around 1,100 students to any of the 155 participating countries.

Treesara has been in Thailand for two weeks and is currently going through orientation at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, where her dad went to college.

One of Treesara’s goals is to get in touch with her Thai side. Her parents were Thai immigrants, which played an important part in her decision to teach in Thailand. She has lived in the U.S. her whole life and has only visited Thailand twice.

“I can speak the language and I can eat the food, but I feel like in some aspects I definitely am more American than I am Thai,” Treesara said.

Being of Thai descent and speaking the language, Treesara has a perspective of what it is like to be Thai-American.

“Growing up biculturally was very difficult considering I mostly always wanted to do things the American way,” Treesara said. “However, now I can better understand what a large struggle my parents had raising me and trying to decide whether to maintain or assimilate various things from Thai culture.”

Through the English and American History classes, she will teach at Triam Udom Suksa School in the Phitsanulok Province, which is in the northern part of Thailand. Her students will be between 10th and 12th graders.

“I want to teach them conversational skills more than anything. It’s good to focus on grammar,” Treesara said. “I really want to work on pronunciation.”

One of Treesara’s toughest adjustments to living in Thailand is dealing with the heat. Most of the days reach at least 90 degrees and it is not even the hottest season yet. Another thing she is struggling with is how casual things are. Thais use the motto “sabai sabai” which roughly translates to “whatever goes, go with the flow.” This is hard for Treesara because she says she is very punctual and schedule-oriented.

One example of Treesara adapting to the “sabai sabai” lifestyle came from her trip to Kanchanaburi, which is two hours north of Bangkok. On her blog, she describes the trip and how she visited a historic landmark of WWII, the River Kwai Bridge along with a number of museums and the War Cemetery.

During her hike, Treesara came across seven waterfalls. At the fourth waterfall all of her friends jumped in the water. Treesara does not know how to swim, but her friends were very supportive by holding her arm as she swam across the water and climbed up a big rock. All the while little fish were nibbling at her feet.

“Once I finally arrived at the large rock, I looked up at the waterfall and was just astonished by not only the view, but also the fact that I had actually gotten into the water,” Treesara said.

In this instance Treesara had to alter her attitude to “go with the flow.” She is getting first hand experience in what constitutes Thai culture.

Treesara recently graduated from Bradley University and majored in English and Secondary Education. She has always wanted to be a teacher, and after hearing about Fulbright, she decided it would be great to study abroad after college.

The program is annually appropriated funds by the U.S. government. In 2012, Fulbright awarded approximately 8,000 grants at a cost of $326.8 million to helping students travel

Ideally, Treesara would like to come back to Chicago to teach high school students. Her hope right now is to one day teach at Lane, where she made many fond memories working on the school newspaper and performing with the Thai club at International Days.

Treesara was editor-in-chief of The Warrior back in 2008-2009. She spent three years on the newspaper and loved it.

“That was the highlight of my life,” Treesara said. “A lot of my memories were made being on the newspaper staff.”

Treesara was also awarded Journalist of the Year in 2009 by the Scholastic Press Association of Chicago.

The biggest thing she took away from working on the newspaper was that deadlines always have to be met, and Treesara sees how this will impact her future career as a teacher.

Teaching students in Thailand will be a chance for Treesara to show the students and herself the similarities and differences between Thai and American culture.

“Each day has been filled with new learning experiences, and I keep catching myself in shock realizing that I was given this once in a lifetime opportunity,” Treesara said.