May 11, 2021
Nearly halfway into her Fulbright for Teaching in Indonesia, Dr. Hannah Stolze was sent home due to COVID. But she made the best of the change of plans—teaching, writing, and spending time with family.
Dr. Hannah Stolze, the Director of the Wheaton Center for Faith & Innovation, planned to spend her spring 2020 sabbatical in Jakarta, Indonesia. She’d been awarded a Fulbright for Teaching and had arranged to spend eight months teaching supply chain management at Universitas Pelita Harapan and working on a book with her school-age children in tow.
For Stolze, winning a Fulbright to teach in Indonesia--which has both one of the largest Muslim populations in the world and a sizeable Chinese population as well--is not only the fulfillment of a dream, but also an intersection of her areas of study and her background as a daughter of missionaries in the Middle East.
During her time at Carthage College, she studied International Political Economics, Mandarin and Asian Studies—and she also spent time studying in Beijing, China.
“In some ways, Indonesia is positioned today where China was positioned 20 years ago when I arrived in Beijing to study,” Stolze said. “As I have watched the growth of the Chinese economy over the past two decades, I have often felt that it would have been a great advantage for there to be a business philosophy course taught in Asia that regarded business purpose beyond profit and wealth creation.”
But just three months into her time teaching, the Fulbright Program suspended all programs due to COVID-19. Despite having to return home, Dr. Stolze focused on the positives: teaching, writing, and family.
“I actually still got to teach for Universitas Pelita Harapan, but I just did it remotely,” she said. “I just shifted my hours.”
Where Dr. Stolze had been teaching a 5 p.m. class to executives in Indonesia, she was now teaching it at 5 a.m. Although she was disappointed about not getting to “the lived experience” of teaching her students in person for the entire time, she was grateful that she got to do three months of it.
One of her classes turned out to be extremely prescient.
“I was teaching global supply chain to a roomful of doctors and hospital executives as the global pandemic was breaking out,” she said. “It was so humbling because in the West, we don’t have scarcity. If you want PPE or ventilators, you just pay a little bit more and you get them, but in Indonesia the equation is different.”
Writing & Family Time
Back at home and in between teaching her remote courses, Dr. Stolze had the opportunity to focus on a book project she’s been thinking about for 13 years.
“I’m pretty high energy and always have a lot going on, so in April when we were really locked down I wrote a book,” she said.
Writing 12 hours a day during the month of April 2020, Dr. Stolze was able to finish the manuscript for what would become Wisdom-Based Business: Applying Biblical Principles and Evidence-Based Research for a Purposeful and Profitable Business, which released in April 2021 from Zondervan Academic, and looks at business practice and strategy through a biblical lens.
The extra time at home also gave Dr. Stolze quality time with her family—even if it was during odd hours.
Her two children decided to continue their studies with their Indonesian school, which meant that they were logging onto their virtual classrooms from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. rather than 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. “In terms of our family, we were able to build some really great connections during this time,” she said.
Summing it up, Dr. Stolze said, “My sabbatical was definitely very unexpected and very different than I’d planned, but it all worked out.”
Dr. Stolze plans to return to the Universitas Pelita Harapan to teach in fall 2021, as a continuation of her disrupted Fulbright.
About “On My Sabbatical”
Wheaton College faculty members are not only excellent teachers but also outstanding scholars. “On My Sabbatical” is a new series that that shares how Wheaton professors spend their sabbaticals researching, writing, and even dabbling in a hobby or two. Read more about Wheaton faculty sabbaticals.