A Livingston County woman is one of four recent alumni of Kalamazoo College to receive a prestigious scholarship to study abroad.
Rebecca Chan, who grew up in the Brighton area, has been chosen to take part in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Described as one of the highest honors the federal government provides in regard to scholarship and international exchange, selectees are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.
Chan, a theatre arts major at Kalamazoo College, finished her degree requirements earlier this year, allowing her to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, this spring. As a Fulbright scholar, she will visit Taiwan.
“I was interested in Taiwan specifically because my paternal grandfather spent some years on the island as he left mainland China in the 1940s and later came to America,” Chan said. “Some of his siblings stayed in Taiwan and raised their families there, so at every family reunion, we discuss Taiwanese history, culture and politics. I’m interested in experiencing Taiwan for myself and connecting with my East Asian heritage.”
Chan will make her language skills her primary focus while she’s overseas.
“I took two years of Mandarin Chinese at K, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to use that language abroad,” she said. “I’d also like to better understand Taiwan’s complex history of colonization by various European and Asian nations. Because of my family’s history, I have received only a very one-sided account of the relationship between Taiwan and China and the debate over Taiwanese independence. Being there, talking to locals, and working in the schools will give me a much richer understanding of Taiwanese identity.”
Since its inception in 1946, Fulbright has provided more than 380,000 participants with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. The program is funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and managed through the U.S. Department of State.