Phillip Chong, of Fairfax, Va., a senior majoring in agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach English in South Korea.
Congress established the Fulbright grant program in 1946 in honor of the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department, it is this nation’s largest international exchange program.
As a Fulbright scholar, Chong will travel to South Korea to teach conversational English to middle to high school students in a secondary school for one year beginning in July 2008. During his stay, he says he also hopes to volunteer at a tutoring center for under-privileged and low-income families and volunteer his time as a baseball or basketball coach. In addition, he says he plans to chronicle his experience as a Korean-American living in Korea. The grant pays for Chong’s travel, all living expenses, and provides a stipend for the year abroad.
Although the focus of this grant is on teaching English and conducting research, Chong says he firmly believes that the most important role for every grantee is the ambassadorial role that he or she will assume. “In many ways, we [Fulbright grantees] are ambassadors of the United States to the country and community that hosts us. As Sen. J. William Fulbright stated, the hope of this program is to foster ‘leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures.’ If I can live up to that spirit and legacy, I am positive that I will grow, learn, and mature as a student, leader, and a human being in ways that I have never experienced before,” said Chong.
“Phillip has a strong belief in the impact education can have on ‘bettering one’s future and achieving your dreams’,” said Christina McIntyre, associate director of Virginia Tech’s University Honors Program. “His interest in applying for the Fulbright has been directly related to this conviction.”
Chong will be graduating on May 8 summa cum laude with the honors diploma recognition of Commonwealth Scholar. He was selected as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Senior for the 2007-08 academic year.
Chong has been named to the dean’s list every semester since entering the university in 2004 and is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi academic honor society, Gamma Beta Phi honor and service society, and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. He was also a member of the Virginia Tech Residential Leadership Community during his first year at Virginia Tech.
In addition to being an exceptional student, Chong, serves as a teaching and research assistant, a job that allows him to grade quizzes, homework assignments, and exams for environmental and agricultural law classes, and develop model answers and student response analysis for assignments. He has also co-authored a law review article recently published in the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law.
Chong is involved in his community beyond Virginia Tech and shares his time and talents generously with others. Through the Crossing the Borders Service-Learning Program, Chong has been a role model and big brother for the past three years to a young Mexican boy whose parents are first-generation immigrants. To prepare for this role, Chong says he researched and studied immigrant identity issues, basic education theory, and basic teaching methodology. He also volunteers as an English as a Second Language tutor at a local elementary school where he assists students with English and math.
Chong served as an intern for U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia in 2007 and as an intern with the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in 2006.
Upon completion of the Fulbright grant, Chong plans to enroll in law school to study international trade law.