Hasin Ishraque, a Baruch College graduate, was awarded the U.S. Student Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award. Ishraque will teach English to Malaysian schoolchildren.
Originally from Bangladesh, Ishraque is a 2016 alumnus of the Marxe School of International and Public Affairs.
During his time at Baruch College, he was the Science & Technology Editor at The Ticker his junior year, a member of Model U.N. his senior year and a Freshman Seminar Peer Mentor for one semester.
Ishraque was informed about the Fulbright Program by way of Valeria Hymas, a fellowship adviser at Baruch who has worked with Fulbright applicants in the past and has an in-depth knowledge of the program.
Ishraque was interested in the Fulbright Program because he wanted to get involved in international careers and believed that it would be a good way to see the world.
“We are lucky that we live in New York City. We see the little pieces of the travel puzzle. But now I can see the whole picture by traveling. I want to understand others and help,” he said.
Fulbright ETAs are chosen from 70 countries and teach the English language outside of the United States. They are also welcomed and encouraged to teach the heritage and history of the United States, do research assignments, get involved in sports, participate in drama organizations, tutor children and volunteer. Fulbright scholars are native English speakers and U.S. citizens. Requirements, such as proficiency in the language of the host country, the number of grants and placement type, differ by country.
Last year, Ishraque volunteered in Kuantan, Malaysia, for six weeks. This program was led by AIESEC, the world’s biggest nonprofit youth-run organization that also offers volunteer opportunities. Ishraque said he collaborated on projects, led presentations and games, organized venues and taught environmental issues to students. He also said that Kuantan was his favorite place in the country.
“There is something charming about Kuantan. I remember it was a one kilometer walk along the highway from the dorms to the classes. The morning walk with my roommate was scorching. But at night it was amazing because we got to see the stars,” he said.
He further explained that he has learned lessons on this journey. He discovered that he looks forward to and embraces challenges rather than fears them. He also learned what friendship means to him. He indicated that he believed while people from the United States are direct and like to get ahead, other people take a lighter approach.
The most rewarding part of his research, said Ishraque, was experiencing local culture. The most challenging part was mediating conflicts, as different people have different perspectives so it was hard to find a consensus.
Now working full-time as a training coordinator for the Red Cross through the AmeriCorps program, Ishraque will teach English to Malaysian high school students in rural areas from January to November.
Housing arrangements for Fulbright ETAs are somewhat centralized, but it is unlikely that his roommates will teach at the same school as Ishraque. His roommates will work on weekdays, and weekends will be dedicated to field trips to different cultural events. Since Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, Ishraque and his roommates will be off for the holiday celebrating the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr.
“Honestly, I am good at living in the moment, but of course I will stay in touch with my family. I will miss being able to eat my favorite comfort food at 2 a.m. and talking to friends in the same time zone. This new experience will be demanding no doubt. I need to adapt to a new culture and may disagree with my peers, but that can happen anywhere. I am looking forward to meeting the students and surprising my Malaysian friends—they do not know I am coming,”
Ishraque said his advice to prospective Fulbright ETA applicants would be to consult advisers, do revisions and reach out to alumni.
“Show what you can bring to the program. Be honest and truthful,” he said.