Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Worldly scholar

Margaux Fisher revisits Asia as a Fulbright Scholar.

Margaux Fisher relishes opportunities to dive into new cultures.

When she was 14, Fisher traveled to China with her mother and fell under the country's spell. She returned there last year as a Wheaton College student to spend the year studying and working as a student teacher.

After she graduates from Wheaton this spring, Fisher will head back to Asia as a Fulbright Scholar to Taiwan where she will teach English and immerse herself in its culture.

"What fascinates me about Taiwan and Taiwanese culture is how it’s a conglomeration of multiple cultures: Chinese (from many very different regions), Japanese, American, and aboriginal Taiwanese," Fisher said. "I think this makes for a very interesting mix of cultural practices.

"I am particularly drawn to the politics of identity and how education and history are involved in the making of identity," she said.

The New Orleans native says her desire to live and work in Asia began with the journey she took with her mother. "By the end of our trip, I did not want to leave. Back in the U.S., I delved into books about the history and culture of Chinese people," she said.

The Anthropology major pursued her interest in the region through a minor in Asian Studies with a concentration in Chinese history. She also studied Mandarin for three years.

During her junior year, Fisher studied Chinese culture and ethnic minorities at Yunnan Minorities University in Kunming and then moved on to Shanxi Normal University in Xi'an, where she studied Chinese history, particularly the Silk Road and globalization. While in China, she also spent the summer teaching English.

The most memorable moment of the year, however, arose from an impromptu trip she and a friend took into rural Sichuan on the eve of the Chinese New Year. The pair climbed aboard the train with no place to spend the night. "Within fifteen minutes, we had an invitation to stay with someone," she said. "We ended up with a room for the night and experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world-–making glutinous rice balls with the family we were staying with, eating meals with them, setting off fireworks in the street, and lighting incense at a Buddhist temple to usher in the New Year."

On campus, Fisher also followed her interests in culture and Asia by participating in the Asian American Coalition and the Anthropology Club and by serving as a Study Abroad Peer Advisor.

Her most important experiences occurred in the classroom, however. "The skills that I have gained in classes at Wheaton are what I think will be most helpful," Fisher said. "Particularly in my Anthropology classes, I have learned how to get a good understanding of group dynamics and exercise cultural sensitivity. These skills will be very useful when it comes to creating lesson plans that will best engage my students and address their specific needs, as well as collaborating with other teachers and staff."