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2017 Fulbright Fellowship Update

2017 Fulbright Fellowship awardee, Laura Kastner, provided us with an update on the work she has been doing in Maylaysia!


Laura graduated from Penn State in May ’17 with a B.A. in CAS and a B.S. in Statistics. She is working now as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia, living in the small city of Kota Bharu, Kelantan. This city is notable for its “seafood” (read: anchovies), proximity to Thailand, Kelate dialect, and its 95% Muslim population. She has been teaching in a rural secondary school called SMK Padang Kala whose students range from 12-18 years old.

During the week (which runs Sunday-Thursday in the three most conservative states in Malaysia), she co-teaches 14 different classes per week, with a new set of 14 classes each month. Teaching mostly consists of playing English games and lighter activities, as the teachers want her to make English more exciting for the students and it’s difficult to keep track of where each class is in their curriculum. Outside of class, she runs Public Speaking Club, a Video Pen Pal program, Choral Speaking Club, English Society, and a Confidence & Leadership Club. Aside from classes and extracurriculars, ETAs in Malaysia are required to lead two English Camps - 1-3 days of themed activities held entirely in English. She plans to lead a girl’s fitness-themed camp, and to co-lead a national TED-style conference.

Laura says, "I have been so pleasantly surprised over the past two months – by the students’ skill and insightfulness, by the teachers’ concern and hospitality, by the community’s enthusiasm and warmth, and by my own ability to adapt to living without comforts that I previously considered necessities. I look forward to continuing to forge close bonds at school, to exposing my students to new ideas and opportunities, and to discovering more about the city and culture I feel so lucky to be a part of."

Keep up the great work, Laura!


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