“I Refuse to Choose:” Exploring Identity, Language Teaching, and the Impact of Whiteness with Meilin Chong

Fulbright Forward - A Diversity Podcast

04-10-2021 • 40 Min.

In this episode of Fulbright Forward, Jeremy Gombin-Sperling, the Fulbright Diversity and Inclusion Liaison for Western Hemisphere Programs continues the conversation on English and language teaching in the Western Hemisphere with Bilingual Educator and alumna of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program in Ecuador, Meilin Chong. During the episode, Meilin shares how her experiences as a biracial Latina woman  of Peruvian and Chinese heritage have informed how she understands the world, and the changes she believes need to happen in order to create more inclusive and equitable spaces for folks of color, as well as multiracial and multilingual communities.

Part of this discussion also revolves around a concept that Meilin introduces early on, the idea of "I refuse to choose." While this idea originally stems from a book by Barbara Shur of the same name on career development, our conversation takes the idea to more complex understandings. As Meilin will discuss, "refuse to choose" can also be about interrupting power such as in breaking assumptions abroad that the only people who can claim to be from the United States and/or teach English are white, or as she has done in her teaching, fostering spaces where young children of color from linguistic backgrounds others than English can celebrate and be celebrated for the many languages and cultures that make them who they are.

See below for resources and references discussed in the podcast episode:

  1. Barbara Shur: Refuse to Choose
  2. Overview of Bilingual Education in the United States
  3. "Color Esperanza" by Diego Torres
  4. Article exploring socioeconomic impacts of white families on bilingual immersion programs in U.S.
  5. Blog article on  intercultural bilingual education in Latin America (Spanish)