Former Undergraduate: Meaghan Hughes on Teaching in Ecuador

Meaghan Hughes received her Philosophy BA in 2015. In addition to her philosophy major, Meaghan, who believes “the best education is a holistic education,” attained three minors during her time at Ohio State: Spanish, environmental science and international studies (with a focus in development).

After graduation, Meaghan moved to Quito, Ecuador, where she worked for the Fulbright Commission as an English instructor. She explains that she decided to move to Ecuador for its biodiversity, its position as a “developing” country and the opportunity to improve her Spanish. She located the Fulbright position through the International TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Academy, at which she took a certification course during her last semester at Ohio State.

Commenting on the influence of her philosophy education, Meaghan says, “Philosophy encouraged me to self-reflect. Through this self-reflection, I knew that there is a very important distinction in my mind between happiness and what most people consider success.” This reflection helped her decide to embark on a “traveling adventure” after completing her degree. She also says, “I plan to continue traveling and learning, and without philosophy, I'm not sure I would have had the self- awareness and, through that, self-confidence to pursue this path.”

In June, after a year with the Fulbright Commission, Meaghan took a position with the Arajuno Road Project, a non-profit organization in eastern Ecuador that supports local communities in education and sustainability initiatives. “The communities we work with lack many resources considered essential for sustainable development. For this reason, we provide support via general literacy education, environmental projects, TEFL education, homework help and cultural events at our community center.” Meaghan plans to continue to work with the Arajuno Road Project until February, when she is likely to start a different TEFL teaching position in Argentina or Chile.

Meaghan’s philosophy education has proven an asset in her career: “The emphasis philosophy places on sound reasoning and analytical precision has always served me well in all other subjects. Studying philosophy, I learned how to think, not what to think. This has consistently helped me learn new concepts, as well as express myself with clarity and depth. Philosophy helped make me a very efficient academic writer. For teaching English, this ability to analyze and express with purpose and concision has helped me enormously, particularly when helping students with writing essays. Moreover, learning the Socratic method cultivated my ability to verbally express myself, and listen to others, with analytical power and precision. This has helped me effectively guide class discussions about a myriad of topics.”

Eventually, Meaghan plans to move to Spain to pursue a master’s degree. While she has not chosen an area of study, she is considering environmental science or cultural anthropology. In the long term, she intends to continue teaching abroad, but in her master’s subject, rather than English.

In the meantime, she is enjoying the biological, geological and cultural diversity of Ecuador: “‘All you need is Ecuador’ is the country’s current slogan, and one can easily see why. In terms of biodiversity, Ecuador boasts four completely distinct regions: the jungle, the mountains, the coast, and the Galapagos. Even more striking, all of this diversity is within one day’s travel. Culturally, Ecuador has an interesting mix of modern aspirations, colonial roots and indigenous influences.” Commenting on her experience in the country, she adds, “On another note, it’s so lovely to be somewhere where men dance! And you can't beat the variety of fresh fruit that grows all year long.”

0