Fulbright Students Abroad
Cultural Exchange and Stretching Your Limit
In 2015, St. Edward’s had a record number of students and recent alumni receive the prestigious Fulbright award: 10 students in all. Nine are teaching English in five countries and one is conducting research in Australia. We caught up with four of our Fulbrighters to see what living, studying and teaching abroad has been like so far.
Caitlin Maples ’15, Philosophy
I'm exhausted but proud of myself for getting the feel of Münster and the classroom so quickly. It's still sinking in that I got the Fulbright and that I am actually here. I’ll be teaching lessons focused on specific parts of my culture, with show-and-tell and fun activities. I'd also like to start a club; someone suggested a philosophy or English debate club, which I think would be a lot of fun both for me and for the students.
When I was studying abroad as a student, I sometimes felt that I had to defy American stereotypes and blend in. This time, everyone actually wants me to be American. That's what I'm here for! And the students are fascinated. I've worn cowboy boots to every class so far, and everyone has to get a good look at them. My students are so curious and enthusiastic about learning English. The teachers are more than happy to have me here, too.
Rebekah Morton ’15, English Writing and Rhetoric
In only two months, I’ve made life-long friends, written a substantial amount of work, gone from speaking no Korean to learning at least a basic conversational level of the language, gotten to know all of my students, coworkers and host family members, and became involved with several outstanding organizations. Sometimes I spend my evenings meeting up with the other Fulbrighters in my city to talk, hang out and generally indulge in some much-needed familiarity.
I teach three to four class periods per day, leaving much of the day open for other projects. In particular, I started a chapbook of poems about a month ago, and I recently began working with a few nonprofits and embassy programs, including the North Korean Defectors program and an organization called WYLD (Women’s Youth Leadership Development). I’ve also been invited to speak at or attend several events hosted by Global Inner Peace. I’m really excited to see where it all goes!
Samantha Mendoza ’15, English Writing and Rhetoric
I have been teaching at my school for about a month now, and I am very happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish. Most significantly, I’ve had the privilege of being placed in charge of the student staff for the monthly student newsletter, The Cambuzz. As an aspiring journalist, this is the perfect fit for me.
As a Fulbright-Nehru scholar, my role is more about cultural exchange than it is about English lessons, so I am able to introduce so many fun cultural aspects about America to my students while they teach me more about their own culture. It’s very important to me to teach my kids about cultural exchange and what it means to be a global citizen. For example, I had them create their own countries, complete with an original national anthem and language. I try to integrate activities like these into my lessons so that students can recognize the importance of cultural sensitivity and learning from other regions of the world.
Jana Soares ’15, Biology
I spent my first few weeks here at the ithree institute at the University of Technology, Sydney, reading a lot of journal articles to get more familiar with the research project and to really think about planning experiments. I’ve now started some preliminary experiments. My schedule varies: some days are structured with lab meetings and seminar presentations, while others are less so, depending on what experiments I’m running.
I attended a few seminars during National Science Week in Australia, when Sydney hosts a science festival and offers public events on different science topics. One of the topics was about antibiotic resistance, which relates to my project. It was great to see non-scientists interacting with the presenters at these forums.
I find Sydney to be a mix between London and New York City, though half as crowded. Sydney is also very cosmopolitan, and I've met people from many different countries, which has been really cool. So, while I am learning about Australian culture, I am also learning more about the cultures in Scotland, Italy, parts of India, etc.
The Fulbright Program provides grant funding so that students and scholars can study and teach abroad. On a broad level, it’s an opportunity for cultural exchange between Americans and the rest of the world; on a personal level, it’s the chance of a lifetime. Applying for a Fulbright is a long, challenging, time-consuming process — but the experience of traveling overseas to teach or to study makes all that hard work worth it.
Hear what nine of our Fulbright winners had to say about the Fulbright before leaving for their assignments abroad.
Read more stories from St. Edward's University.