Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Antoinette Woolner

Antoinette Woolner ’13 has won a Freeman-ASIA Award, which aims to increase the number of U.S. undergraduates studying abroad in East and Southeast Asia. Woolner heads to Beijing in the fall.

Asian immersion: In my early teens, my interest in Asia was piqued when my father spent a summer at Yale studying the history of Chinese culture and Mandarin Chinese. His newfound enthusiasm rubbed off on me as he shared the stories from Chinese history and the fascination with the sound of a language so radically different from English. My interest in China has stayed with me as I have moved onto college. I came to Wheaton on a mission to immerse myself in all things Asia.

Tackling environmental issues: Experiencing China will play an integral role in my pursuit to become an Asian studies scholar, specifically focusing on China. I hope to focus on what is being done in the U.S. and China to combat the environmental impact our societies have. This past semester, there was a visiting professor, Wolfgang Brauner, who taught a class on environmental issues. It was the most eye-opening educational experience I have had in my entire life.

Authentic Chinese food: Far more valuable than any souvenir will be my chance to learn the art of traditional Chinese cooking. Many students at Wheaton like me are interested in nutrition and the culinary arts. There will even be a suite focused on food. I will bring to the table, literally and figuratively, my newfound knowledge of Chinese cuisine, which we will then share with the student body at large. Food is the ultimate introduction to a culture and a great venue for conversation about my peers’ interests in Asia.

A future educator: Adding study in China to my undergraduate education at Wheaton will lay the most solid of foundations for a career in Asian-focused international politics and global environmental issues. This summer, I have been substitute teaching in a 7th grade geography class and teaching them about China. It made me think I almost might consider education later in life – maybe I’ll teach as a segue into retirement.