Educating across borders

How an H-F alumnus got the opportunity to teach abroad


Jaira Stanley

From Thailand to H-F: English teacher Kanoa Mulling representing the H-F Speech Team. In addition to being a member on Speech Team at H-F he was also apart of Mathletes, Orchestra, Group Interpretation and Volleyball.

Lindsey Muse, News Writer

The 2018-2019 school year has brought multiple new teachers to H-F, especially in the English department. A new face you will be seeing this year is 2011 H-F graduate Kanoa Mulling, who has a very interesting teaching background.

In the summer of 2013, Mulling had the opportunity to teach abroad in China for 10 weeks. While he was there, he taught drama classes to Chinese students and directed a play.

His hall mate was from Chang Hai and had a previous experience from a small program that helps Chinese students prepare for the U.S. This is how the possibility of teaching abroad came about.

Shortly after that, Mulling had another opportunity to teach abroad in Thailand for two years at Payap University. He taught Public Speaking, Literature, and drama and even directed a play.

“This is one experience I never thought I would have,” Mulling said.

Shortly after that he got accepted into Princeton in Asia, a program that allows students that are enrolled into Princeton University to expand their teaching background to other countries.
Teaching in a foreign country can be difficult considering the language barrier between the two different languages that are spoken.

“At first, it was challenging for me being able to understand a native English speaker. Later on, I got used to it because Kanoa knew how to run things and how to speak to those who are not native,” Krittayot Kraisawan, Mulling’s former student, said. “He started talking slower and clearer in order to make us understand what he’s trying to say. “

Kraisawan really looked up to Mulling as a teacher. In the classroom Mulling was very playful with his students in a way that helped them learn the material in a different way.

“He was actually so funny because he used a lot of techniques to teach us for a better understanding. Sometimes he acted to express his emotions in front of the whole class.” Kraisawan said.

Though Mulling had great experiences in Thailand teaching many students English as well as various other subjects, he also experienced the greatest loss and indifference that the country of Thailand has ever had, according to Mulling.

The country of Thailand praised King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who was on throne for more than 70 years. He was majorly admired by the people of Thailand. They even believed he could control the weather. Once he died, the country decided to wear black for a full year in honor of their late king that passed away.

Thailand is usually known for its bright vibrant colors, so it was a shock to adjust his everyday wardrobe to black and grey.

“I had to wear black everyday to work for a full year,” Mulling said. “Thailand usually wears lots of bright colors like pink or yellow and to suddenly go straight to black within the first month of arriving to thailand was a big adjustment.”

This summer after coming back from Thailand, Mulling decided to go back to his alma mater where everything started for him.

H-F was a big chapter in Mulling’s life. This is where he found his love for theatre and public speaking. He was a part of H-F’s award winning speech team.While on the team, he was in multiple events, including Radio Speaking, Declamation and Oratory. The event he really excelled in was Radio Speaking.

“He was very dedicated in his events, he did about half of them,” Head Speech Coach Janine Stromer said. “He really excelled in radio speaking and went to state twice and made it to the finals.”

Stromer taught Mulling in her sophomore English class and said that Mulling was one of the most intelligent and well spoken students in all of her classes.

“He was top notch and very serious in his studies” Stromer said. “If I had one word to describe him it would be dynamic.”

For Mulling, coming back to his alma mater wasn’t a step in the wrong direction. It was where everything fell into place for him and felt comfortable.

“The number one reason I came back was for speech and theatre,” Mulling said. “I love English but it’s oral communication that I’m most passionate about. I hope the people involved in speech and theatre know how much the school supports it and that it is a cool thing to be a part of.”