Fulbright Scholarship Sends NWU Student to Central Africa
“The greatest way to learn is to teach,” says Nebraska Wesleyan University senior Meera Bhardwaj.
She’s had some teaching experience: she served as a Liberal Arts Seminar student instructor and she has presented her research on Rwanda before hundreds of peers and professors. These experiences, she says, have built her passion for teaching, connecting and communicating with students in educational growth.
She will get another teaching opportunity this fall as an English teaching assistant in Cameroon thanks to prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
Bhardwaj is the fourth NWU student this year to win a Fulbright Scholarship, which is the flagship international education program sponsored by the U.S. government. Students are selected based on academic merit and leadership potential.
Cameroon is a central African nation bordered by Nigeria and Chad. Bhardwaj first learned of the country from a book titled, Une vie de boy (The Houseboy), a story about the psychological aspect of colonialism on its victims. She was fascinated by the country’s dual nature of colonization (part French, part British) and decided to pursue the possibility of teaching English there.
Bhardwaj is no stranger to international travel. She transferred to Nebraska Wesleyan from McGill University in Quebec, studied abroad in Senegal, researched women’s power in Rwanda, and participated in a NWU service learning trip to Malawi.
“However the international experience that really showed me that the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship was what I should try to do next was right here in Lincoln,” she said.
Bhardwaj teaches English classes every Saturday through the Lincoln Literacy Council. Her class is made up students from Mexico, Niger, Japan, India, Guatemala and South Korea.
She will graduate in May with a major in English and minors in French and psychology. In addition to teaching English in Cameroon, Bhardwaj plans to research women’s organizations. Following her year in Cameroon, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in public administration or public policy.
“I hope that I listen more than I talk, and that I encourage my students to try to think in different ways so that they can challenge me on my preconceived ideas and assumptions,” said Bhardwaj. “I also hope that one day I will pay forward the time and energy that have been expended on me by sharing what I’ve learned with other people, both in the United States and Cameroon.”
Three other NWU students have been awarded Fulbright scholarships this year including:
- Alex Bednar, who will teach English in the Czech Republic
- Nicole Spry, who will teach English in Vietnam
- Kyle Karthauser, who will teach English in Germany
The Chronicle of Higher Education has consistently named Nebraska Wesleyan University to its list of top Fulbright producing schools in the country. Nebraska Wesleyan students have earned a total of 39 Fulbright scholarships with 29 of those earned in the past decade.