Colin de Guzman '14 | Fulbright Scholar
Colin de Guzman '14 is halfway through his Fulbright program and spoke to MCHS classmate Corinna Sanding '14 about his experience in South Korea.
After graduating from St. Edward’s with a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience, de Guzman participated in the Moreau Fellowship program. This experience ignited his interest in teaching. Before long, he earned a teaching credential and a master’s degree in education from Notre Dame University as an Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Fellow. Approaching the end of his ACE Fellowship and after spending half his teaching career in the unsatisfying world of hybrid learning, de Guzman wasn’t even sure if being a teacher was what he wanted to do anymore.
Unlike Samura, de Guzman had never studied abroad when he decided to apply to Fulbright. Taking a big risk—a thing he says he learned to do at Moreau—he chose placement in South Korea, where he now works in an all-boys private school in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, South Korea. There he teaches conversational English and American culture.
One of the simultaneously exciting and daunting things about his work is the lack of codified standards or curriculum. This leaves de Guzman free to respond to students’ needs and wants, meeting them where they are, in true Fr. Moreau pedagogical fashion. De Guzman works hard to eliminate neocolonialist thinking from his work, reminding himself that “I’m not saving anyone.” He emphasizes the need for “Fulbright grantees to realize that we’re not coming into these countries as saviors, we’re just coming into this country to be a cultural ambassador,” a role he finds tremendously enjoyable.
This experience has renewed de Guzman’s love of teaching. With the same humility as most educators, he says, “I’m not doing anything special for these kids. If anything, they’re doing something special for me because they’re allowing me to be in their lives and be just be their teacher.” Paraphrasing a social media post by MCHS math teacher Gary Gongwer, he reflects on the cycle of meeting new students and saying goodbye to them a few years later: “The hardest part is letting go, but we know that we’ve been preparing to let [them] go since we met [them].”
De Guzman says he’s done with his own educational pursuits for now (though he doesn’t rule out an educational doctorate down the road), but he does want to continue teaching. He also shares that his journey in Korea isn’t yet over. He hopes to stay another year, either renewing with Fulbright, finding work at an international school, or possibly teaching at a North Korea Defector (NKD) school. No matter where his journey takes him, de Guzman hopes to be remembered as “the person that made you feel important regardless of where you’re at or what we were doing.”