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William Cheung

College: CUNY Baccalaureate Degree
Awards: Fulbright U.S. Student Program, 2014

Developing a Philosophical Approach

William Cheung (CUNY Baccalaureate, history of philosophy/continental philosophy, 2014) is a scholar of philosophy and the German language, a champion policy debater and debate coach. His latest distinction, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany, dovetails with those passions.

“I hope to translate what I learn from this experience into graduate school and a dissertation on German Idealism and ethics, while still keeping an eye toward my own experiences and how globalized, multicultural societies demand new ethical paradigms,” Cheung says.

A Canarsie, Brooklyn, native who was based at Brooklyn College for his CUNY Baccalaureate and took almost every philosophy course offered there, Cheung says he looks forward to interacting with German high school or college students in Bavaria “from the perspective of a multicultural New Yorker while teaching both the English language and American culture and politics. I think it might strike some German students as surprising at first to see an Asian-American in their classroom representing the United States, but I think this interacting is especially important in order to speak across people’s differences,” he says.

Cheung has been captivated by philosophy, and with the German language, since his youth, starting when he persuaded an Austrian math teacher to tutor him in German and took classes “after giving my ‘pragmatic’ immigrant parents an insistent argument on the practical applications of German,” he wrote in his Fulbright grant application. German writers like Goethe and Rilke “have shaped my life and aided my finding a place in a multicultural world,” he says.

Cheung has also coached minority students in debating public policy issues, honing their critical thinking and research skills and involving them in the political process. A national-level collegiate policy debater and an award-winning speaker, he looks ahead to the Fulbright post as “a unique opportunity for me to work with students to develop better communicative and pedagogical models.”

Cheung plans to enter graduate school in 2016, “study theory and philosophy in the interest of mostly ethics and minority students,” and ultimately become a professor.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, administered by the Department of State to increase understanding between U.S. citizens and those of other countries, offers fellowships for study, research and/or teaching English abroad. A stipend covers living expenses.