Senior social work major Mia Prohaska will return to Thailand to teach English under a Fulbright scholarship after falling in love with the culture and community five years ago.
The U.S. Fulbright scholarship is a highly competitive program that provides grants for individually designed projects in foreign countries.
Prohaska was one of twenty applicants to be awarded a teaching assistant grant for Thailand.
Prohaska fell in love with Thailand her senior year of high school, when she studied abroad for a year.
“Being in Thailand for a year changed me,” Prohaska said. “I felt like I was just taking in so much all year. Now is my turn to give back.”
While she always knew she wanted to return, she didn’t know about Fulbright until she got into college.
Prohaska has been preparing to apply to the Fulbright program since the beginning of her senior year.
She said she went on a United Nations trip with the social work program and talked to her professor, Jessica Ritter, and knew she wanted to be a part of the program.
Humble about her achievement and merits, Prohaska said she was not confident at all when she applied to the Fulbright because of how competitive the award is.
When Prohaska got an email asking her to call the Fulbright office, she was wracked with elation and nerves.
When the day came to call the office, she got up at 6 a.m. to call right when the office opened.
Prohaska laughed that she probably scared the man on the phone because when he offered her the position, she started screaming and couldn’t stop.
“I am just so honored and moved to do this,” Prohaska said.
She said she hopes she gets to teach in a northern rural area because there is a high need for education there.
Prohaska has kept strong ties with the friends and connections she made in Thailand and plans to visit them while she is there.
“These people are so incredible,” she said. “They may not even have a roof on their house but they will invite you over for dinner,” Porhaska said. “The sense of community and generosity is so moving.”
That sense of community is something she hopes to bring back to the United States.
When she was in Thailand last, Prohaska said she didn’t get much of a chance to travel and is really looking forward to experiencing some of the countries around Thailand.
While Prohaska said she is going to have a hard time being away from her boyfriend and dog.
She has been emotionally prepared for the year away for a long time.
She said her boyfriend is planning a trip to go visit her and backpack through Thailand during her time in the program.
In her time at Pacific, Prohaska has been richly involved in the Center for Civic Engagement and the social work program.