BLS Student Profile
Margaret near where she lives in Dharamsala, India
Traveling, Teaching, & Learning in Asia
Margaret, 30, has been on the Dean's list since joining the BLS Program — while teaching English in China, traveling in Thailand and Mongolia, and working with Tibetan refugees in India! Here's what she has to say about her experience in Asia and the BLS Program:
When I was twenty years old, I dropped out of college to do the AmeriCorps program. I took the year off to come to North Carolina to work in an HIV hospice and teach prison inmates. It was a wonderful experience. Of course, as it is with so many of us now in the BLS program, I had never thought that I would take off more than a year. However, life happened, and eight years went by. I found myself trapped in a series of mediocre, dead-end jobs because I had not finished college. What is worse, I always felt insecure because I had not accomplished what to me is such an important life goal.
A couple of years ago I heard of a certification program that would let me teach English as a Foreign Language abroad. I took the course, and almost immediately found a position teaching at a primary school in Shanghai, China. I left my home, family and dog and moved overseas, excited to start a new chapter. But, still, education is more than a means to an end. It is part of our defining character and sense of worth. For all that was going well in my life, I knew I had to complete my degree to be content.
Margaret with one of her classes in Shanghai — where's Waldo?
I had heard of UNCG's BLS program through a coworker and decided to apply and see how it went. It turned out that I loved it! I have, with only occasional glitches, been able to complete my coursework at my convenience. The courses are interesting and diverse, and I feel that I am truly getting an exceptional education.
Since I began the program, I have lived in China, traveled in Thailand and Mongolia, and now I live in Dharamsala, India. Throughout all of these locations I have been a full-time student at UNCG. Now, I am a volunteer teacher with the Refugee Tibetan Community and am studying yoga, Buddhism and meditation. Because of the versatile format of the BLS program, I can incorporate my studies into my daily life. It is not only a matter of convenience. Being so far away and living my life the way that I want makes the coursework take on more scope. For example, right now I am taking an Asian Literature course in which I have lived in two of the countries that we read about. Last spring I took a course on creation myths that taught me about the original beliefs of the people that created temples I have had the privilege of seeing in person. The BLS Program is truly providing me with a liberal arts education that is opening up how I see the world. It is amazing that thanks to UNCG I can be part of such a great program that I enjoy, while I can accomplish my other life goals.
Margaret near the intersection of the Mongolian, Russian and Chinese borders
I would strongly encourage any other interested students to take a course and try the BLS program. I can say without any hesitation that I have loved my experience at UNCG. While I have never actually been to Greensboro, I feel as though I am part of a dynamic learning community which I can access from anywhere in the world at any time that I want. It's a fantastic experience, which I am now considering repeating in UNCG's MALS Program next year.
— Dharamsala, India, September 2008