Noah Erwin

Noah making funny faces with students

Fulbright ETA, 2016–2017

Although my job title was “teacher,” the people that I met during my time in Malaysia were the most memorable aspect of my grant year. I won’t remember what we made during after-school cooking classes: it’s the bulging teenage mouths and cheek-to-cheek smiles that will stay with me. I won’t remember exactly how to make nasi lemak, neither will my friends remember how to make cornbread: it’s the exchanging of knowledge, laughter over my insistence to use a knife instead of a blender and awkwardness of showing up alone to a married woman’s house that cement themselves in my mind. And I won’t remember the proper fertilization schedule for Musang King durian: it’s the amazed look on the students’ faces when I ate a second, third and fourth bite of durian and learning how a farmer uses Buddhism as a framework to care for durian trees. I mentioned “relationship” or “friendship” nearly every third sentence in my application, and my year in Malaysia showed me how much I value, and need, people in my life.