The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sending recent Bucknell University graduate Lisa Hubbard '15 to Malaysia to teach students in local schools to speak English, but that's not all she has in mind. She also wants to teach them to dance.
"When I researched the different places I could go through Fulbright, I asked, 'How can I add in my passion for the performing arts,'" said Hubbard, a sociology major and dance minor. "When I found Malaysia, they said, 'If you come here to teach English, you will also be in charge of an after-school program with the kids, where you can teach whatever you want.' I said, dance! That's it!"
Hubbard is one of two members of her class to earn scholarships from the prestigious Fulbright program, which provides a variety of research, teaching and education grants for travel abroad. The other, Jared Eister '15, is headed to Russia through Fulbright English Teaching and Critical Language Enhancement awards. Three Bucknell faculty members also received Fulbright scholarships in 2015.
Starting in January 2016, Hubbard will spend 10 months teaching English in Malaysia. Her placement location has not been finalized, but she will be working in a public school. In addition to teaching students dance, she plans to study traditional Malaysian dances such as the Silat and Joget.
For Hubbard, a D.C. Posse Scholar and former captain of the Bisonettes Dance Team, the desire to incorporate dance into her curriculum is personal. She candidly admits she struggled to adjust academically and socially at Bucknell, and credits dance with helping her pull through.
When I first came to Bucknell I was very quiet," Hubbard said. "I didn't speak my mind as much. Dance gave me an outlet to be able to speak without really speaking, and that was really powerful for me. It was my voice until I found my voice."
She has already seen how dance can help others find their voices as well. For two years, Hubbard volunteered at a women's juvenile detention center in Danville, Pa., an opportunity facilitated by Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement. The program she worked for helps incarcerated youth cope with stress through visual arts, music and dance.
"I was able to see the change that can happen for kids if you just show them different ways of working through their obstacles," she said. "It was not easy at all; it was maximum lockdown. I worked with teenage women who had gone through a lot. You have to show them that you care about them and about what's going to happen to them in the future."
In her own future, Hubbard wants to continue to share the lessons she learned from dance at Bucknell — both in Malaysia and in her career afterward. Her goal is to create a nonprofit that uses the performing and creative arts as a mental therapy for youth.
"That's what it was for me here, and I want to be able to share that with other people, especially kids," she said "Life is rough; it's going to get hard. But there's always something that you can lean on. You can turn what's frustrating you or hindering you into something that's productive."