Fiona Miller '09, alumna
Fiona Miller ’09 learned a lot about Asia after graduation and is now focused on exposing future college graduates to service opportunities in the region.
She is living in Singapore with her partner and 16-month-old daughter and working in the Princeton in Asia field office. PiA is a Princeton-affiliated nonprofit that has been sending talented college graduates to Asian countries for more than a century to work in service-oriented fellowships and build bridges between the East and West.
Her first experience with PiA was in 2009 after she graduated. She moved to Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to teach English at a university for a year. She says she knew almost nothing about Asia when she accepted the fellowship, but later described the experience as the most eye-opening and transformative of her life.
“I learned so much, not only about the geography, history and politics of Indonesia and Asia at large, but also about the openness and generosity of Indonesian culture, and the emphasis that Indonesians place on community and valuing the collective whole over individual needs and agendas," she says. "These are values that I have come to internalize as my own, yet they are so different from a lot of what we absorb as young Americans growing up in the U.S."
Just out of college herself, the students she taught at the university were almost her peers, yet she was instrumental in helping to cultivate their goals. She considers herself fortunate to have participated in the education of a generation that will lead the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation through the 21st century. “I am positive that they taught me more than I ever taught them, and I am profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to both teach and learn from them.”
After Yogyakarta, she returned to the states and took a position as a program director with PiA. She split her time between her home in Brooklyn, N.Y., and PiA’s office in Princeton, N.J., where she was responsible for managing PiA's posts in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan Mongolia and Central Asia. In 2013, however, she found herself longing to return to Asia. "After being two years in Princeton living vicariously through PiA fellows out in the field, I am so excited to be back in Southeast Asia re-experiencing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a part of the world that I love so much."
As an undergraduate, Miller was a comparative literature major with a concentration in Spanish poetry and creative writing. She was an Outdoor Action leader trainer, leading pre-orientation backpacking trips for first-year students and training students to become Outdoor Action leaders. She poured most of her energy into Princeton’s LGBT community as co-vice president of the Pride Alliance, and as an LGBT peer educator she spoke on panels in Princeton’s residential colleges to raise awareness about issues relating to the LGBT campus community.
“I love my job and I'm so happy to be working to give future college graduates the same incredible international experience that I had," she says. "And now that I'm back in Asia, it couldn't be better!"