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brian watts, south korea, 2011-2012

Fulbright Year: 2011-2012
Country: South Korea
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistantship
UGA Undergraduate Major: Ecology
Graduation Date: May 2011
Hometown: Douglasville, GA

When Brian Watts was awarded a Fulbright grant earlier this year, there was no question in his mind about returning to South Korea.

As a result, Brian will be making his third visit to the country, having been there in 2007 after graduating from high school and again in 2009 on a University of Georgia Honors International Scholarship Program grant. This time around, he’ll be working as an English teacher and will also spend time learning about the country’s environmental picture.

“I’ll be teaching English at a coed high school in the third largest city in South Korea, Daegu,” he says. “As a Fulbright ETA, I will also be acting as an American cultural ambassador. I will share some aspects of the American culture with my colleagues, students, and fellow Fulbright recipients. I plan to use a lot of environment-related material in my teaching lessons.”

Before being assigned to a school, Brian spent six weeks in teacher training and Korean language instruction.

“I learned the basics of the language from my friend in high school, and I’ve taken classes here at UGA,” says Brian, who adds that he hopes to take other language courses at the university in Seoul. “Being there on my own in 2009 really helped, but I’ll definitely need the refresher.

“I look forward to learning the Korean language and becoming more fluent. By doing this, I hope to make a ton of new, long-lasting friendships with native Koreans.

Brian, who graduated in May 2011, conducted soil ecology research as part of the UGA Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and also did research on co-infection in wildlife and virus evolution. He says he wants to learn as much as possible about South Korea’s environmental and ecological issues.

“Aside from the language aspect, my other mission while I’m here is to seek out environmental programs, activists, and volunteering,” he says. “I want to know how the environmental issues are being addressed and communicated to the general public here in Korea.

“The whole point of me coming to South Korea to teach English is for me to understand better the ins and outs of communicating with people who may not know a subject that well, but knowing it could benefit them greatly. I want to be able to communicate the importance of some environmental issues to everyday civilians who may not be able to understand the confusing, scientific mumbo-jumbo.”

Brian’s post-Fulbright plans are simple – he wants to save the world.

“I’d like to work for the EPA for a year or so, getting some experience specifically in policy-related environmental work,” he says. “I also want to attend graduate school for public/environmental policy and or international policy, focusing on environmental issues, of course. I usually joke by telling people that I want to save the world, but that is ultimately what I want to work towards: spreading the knowledge of our environment and its importance in order to save what we have left.”

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