A junior from Upper Saddle River, NJ, Meghan Cullinan ’17 CLAS is a double major in Mathematics and Secondary Education. From this May to June, Meghan took part in the America’s Unofficial Ambassadors program, which took her to Indonesia. It was her first time in Asia after she studied abroad last summer in London.
Why did you choose to become one of America’s Unofficial Ambassadors?
I was interested in immersing myself in the culture of the Muslim world. The purpose of America's Unofficial Ambassadors is for college students to share American culture and English language, while learning about individual countries’ cultures and religious practices. As a Secondary Education major I love to teach and am passionate about learning in order to broaden my global awareness.
How has your experience in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences prepared you for this experience?
As a student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences I have had many opportunities to explore topics such as education, race, religion, socioeconomic status, ability, and foreign relations. All of these topics influenced how I was able to reflect upon and process my experience in Indonesia. The most valuable way my CLAS experience prepared me for my work in Indonesia was through my teacher preparation courses. I was able to think critically to evaluate the school's practices and values to learn from its successes and make suggestions about areas the school could improve.
What was your experience been like so far?
My experience was an incredible teaching and learning opportunity that has deeply changed my perspective of the global community. I was able to engage with the community in ways I never expected, both in and out of the classroom. Overall, I think that largest lesson I learned was about how presence and compassion can be used to build cross cultural relationships in order to address the negative stereotypes and cultural ignorance that prevent our global community from deeply engaging with and considering one another.
What are your goals?
My ultimate goal is to use the power of education to increase global awareness and provide children around the world with the opportunity to choose their own future. Access to education provides children with the chance to choose their own future and develop themselves to be the critical thinkers and globally aware citizens our society needs today. I want to help my students recognize the power they have in their minds and guide them to use their power that comes from their education to pursue their passions.
Have you had any mentors, classes or professors who have had a particular impact on you?
There were many classes and professors that were particularly influential throughout my experience in Aceh. My knowledge of development from my Global Poverty and Justice course with Dr. Suzanne Toton was essential for having conversations with government officials and educational leaders about the community of Aceh. Most of all my classes challenged me to not accept societal norms and use questioning, listening, reflection, and critical thinking to make an informed judgment.