Tollbooths to Malaysia
Childhood lessons help Anna Littlehale ’10 win Fulbright Scholarship
“I feel blessed with this opportunity to learn as an educator,” said the psychology and education major. “This is my chance to experience another culture, value system and people that have a lot to teach me. I plan to take everything I learn back into the classroom with me when I return.”
Littlehale’s childhood led her to pursue the unknown. She grew up scanning the horizon for the next tollbooth during her family travels. “We had a tradition of paying the toll for the people behind us. This small act of kindness made many cars of people smile and honk at us for miles. In simple, yet meaningful ways, my parents instilled in me a passion for making each day a more positive experience for those around me. These early childhood experiences shaped my views on social responsibility and commitment to service,” she said.
During her four years at Wheaton, Littlehale worked with at-risk children, refugee children and children with developmental disabilities. She chose to study abroad in Denmark to explore the special education systems and educational philosophies in Europe. Earning a Wheaton Fellowship enabled her to intern at a non-profit tutoring program in her hometown of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.
It was this experience teaching English to non-native speakers that helped develop her teaching skills to meet the needs of a diverse classroom, tools that will serve her well in Malaysia, “My years of working with refugees have helped me recognize the value of developing oral language skills first and foremost, before tackling other aspects of literacy. Teaching non-native speakers requires flexibility and creativity, as well as an understanding that things will not go as planned.”
While in Malaysia, Littlehale will embrace the culture, “I want to explore the relationship between contemplative practices and learning in Malaysian society when I am not in the classroom or working with students,” she said.
This interest in exploring not only the Malaysian educational system, but also Asian culture sets her apart from other candidates, says Mark Hoesly, Dean of Academic Advising, “In Anna, we see a compassionate young woman ready for the intense experience of teaching and living in Malaysia. She is looking forward to really connecting with Malaysians and will certainly take much away from the experience,” he said.
Upon completion of her scholarship, Littlehale plans to pursue a career in the field of education through advocacy, teaching or specializing in an area of curriculum. She wants to work closely with underprivileged populations.