NORTON, Mass. — Riley Heist of Bar Harbor, who graduated from Mount Desert Island High School in 2014 and expects to graduate this spring from Wheaton College, is set to spend next year teaching English in Indonesia.
She received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She will work on part of a project to promote mutual understanding and good will between Indonesians and Americans, to foster positive binational relations, to assist local English teachers and to engage students in communication and extracurricular activities.
Heist, who will graduate with a double major in English and secondary education, spent the spring semester of her junior year in Valencia, Spain, teaching English in a middle school and studying at a university.
“I worked with a boy who refused to read in English for fear he would embarrass himself,” she said in an interview posted on the college’s website. “When I put myself in his shoes and read an unfamiliar Spanish text, he began to laugh and loosened up enough to try reading his book.”
Heist said she was inspired to teach by her mother, a teacher at Conners Emerson. After her Fulbright, she hopes to continue her teaching career in the U.S. and pursue a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language.
Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.
The program is organized and funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support.
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals and scientists the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.