My name is Karla Guadron & I was a 2017-18 ETA at a secondary school in Kalasin, Thailand. I’m a #firstgen Salvadoran American from #NY and majored in Psychology/Cultural Studies at #VillanovaUniversity. I worked as a HS teacher & legal advocate at a nonprofit immigration law firm prior to Fulbright.
Visiting family in #ElSalvador allowed me to build a richer context around what it means to be Salvadoran; recognizing it‘s much more than the sociopolitical narrative often used to define it. This is what moved me to apply to Fulbright Thailand. I had read about political developments & tourism in Thailand, but I was curious about the context in between: what intricacies of this culture are not being reflected in the news? .
In #Thailand, I taught over 500 students who were joyfully lighthearted despite the struggles of being from a rural town in one of the wealthiest countries in #SEAsia. I witnessed the unique ways that learning English enables social mobility for students and their families. My community showed me the benefits of daily group meditations & that relationship building is just as important, if not more so, as productivity. I learned about Buddhism through formal ceremonies & by people’s day to day acts of kindness and care.
One of my biggest contributions to my Thai community was sharing the ways in which I represent American #diversity. I met a lot of Thai people confused as to how I was American but not white – reflecting the only representation they had seen in media & tourist populations. I’m proud to have expanded their perspectives on American culture & what it means to be an American #Latina.
I am now studying to be a software engineer through #adadevelopersacademy. This career pivot was inspired by my students in #robotics club who reminded me of my own HS robotics days & was supplemented by the fact that I had ample time to do coding tutorials in my small, sleepy town. The same curiosity propelling me through Thailand moves me forward today; except now I carry the wisdom my Thai community graciously shared with me & the responsibility that comes with that. Thank you #YangtaladwittayakarnSchool & @the_fulbright_program !