Christopher Hoogstraten '17 Awarded Princeton in Asia Fellowship
The English major will spend next year teaching at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Christopher Hoogstraten '17 wants to be a teacher. The English major and philosophy minor envisions a future spent sharing his love of literature with high school or college students. And thanks to a Princeton in Asia (PIA) Fellowship, that future is starting soon: After graduation in May, Hoogstraten will move to Chiang Rai, Thailand, to teach English at Mae Fah Luang University.
"After spending my whole life in mid-Atlantic suburbs, I want to be thrown into an entirely unfamiliar culture," says the D.C.-area native. "I think being entirely flustered for a year or two will really make me grow as a person. What better time in life than right after college to take on an entirely new adventure?"
Since 1898, PIA has fostered mutual appreciation and cultural understanding by connecting service-minded American graduates and Asian partner organizations through immersive work experiences that benefit local and global communities; currently, PIA sponsors over 150 fellowships in 21 countries.
"I appreciated how PIA does the placement for you," says Hoogstraten. "They get a sense of who you are as an applicant, and then try to match you with a placement where they think you can flourish. I trusted that they had a much better sense of where I would do well than I did."
Though PIA connected him with his teaching job, Hoogstraten will be a direct hire of the university and its staff will help him acquire housing near school once he arrives in Thailand. His fellowship is for at least a year, though he may elect to stay on at the university for an additional year. Upon his return stateside, he to pursue graduate studies in English literature.
While in Thailand, he is looking forward to experiencing the warm, humid weather—which he knows well from summers in D.C.—exploring the local Buddhist temples, touring the country by motorbike, and immersing himself in Chiang Mai's slower pace of life, in addition to growing as an educator.
"I will spend about 20 hours a week in the classroom," he says, "which will leave plenty of time for learning Thai, hiking, exploring the surrounding area by motorbike, cooking, gorging myself, reading and writing, and simply being in a wholly unfamiliar place. I would also like to improve at the harmonica."
The social captain of Haverford's Big Donkey Ultimate team also hopes to find some new friends to explore his favorite pastime.
"My involvement in our men’s ultimate Frisbee team has been one of the most valuable parts of my time at Haverford," he says. "The trust, joy, and respect that binds the team together is the reason Haverford has felt like a home to me. … So I hope to get some people in Thailand interested in throwing Frisbees around outside after classes."