UNC Asheville senior Annelise DeJong has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Sri Lanka. DeJong was selected for this prestigious honor on the basis of academic achievement and demonstrated capacity for leadership. She will leave in October to begin work in Sri Lanka through the Fulbright Program for U.S. Students, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. DeJong is the 35th UNC Asheville student to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.
DeJong, who will graduate in May with a degree in sociology, has already amassed significant international experience through UNC Asheville study-abroad programs. She taught English to a predominantly Quechua-speaking class in Peru, and studied at the Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica. Closer to home, she has volunteered at North Asheville Preschool for three years.
DeJong has never been to Asia, but plans to do extensive reading on Sinhalese history, culture and language before departing. “I will be using my sociology background a lot, and I have thought about the ramifications of teaching English abroad,” says DeJong. “As part of the Fulbright program, we’re encouraged to learn the local languages and establish connections. I certainly wouldn’t want English to replace native languages there. It seems as if English is a tool for moving up the economic ladder in Sri Lanka, so if I’ll be teaching in a low-income school, that would be helpful.”
DeJong will not be traveling alone. This summer, she and fellow graduating senior Jake Hagedorn, both of Brevard, will be married and will travel to Sri Lanka together. Hagedorn, a mainstay of the UNC Asheville men’s soccer team, will leave UNC Asheville with a degree in environmental studies. He hopes to apply his knowledge to service work during his year in Sri Lanka.
When she returns to the U.S., DeJong plans to attend graduate school to study social issues surrounding education and then pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an educator at the elementary school level.