Tag Archives: Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship

Are you attending the Hispanic Conference of Colleges and Universities (HACU) this October? If so, stop by to meet Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Marylin Rodriguez on Friday, October, 28.

On Friday, October 28, representatives from the Fulbright, Gilman and Boren Programs will be participating in workshops prior to start of this year’s Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Conference (HACU)

We are pleased to announce that the Fulbright Workshop will feature Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Marylin Rodriguez.  While she will be attending all of HACU next weekend, this workshop will be an excellent opportunity for students and applicants to ask her questions about what it was like to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Uruguay and how her Fulbright experiences continue to have an impact on her personally and professionally.  To learn more about Marylin and her Fulbright ETA experiences, watch the video below:

Marylin Rodriguez – to Uruguay, 2007 (ETA) from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

If you’re attending HACU or are located in the San Antonio area, we encourage you to stop by and participate in any of the following sessions:

1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Boren Scholarships and Fellowships

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Fulbright Program for U.S. Students


University of Texas at San Antonio – Downtown

Buena Vista Street Building, Room 4.304A – Conference

To view a map, click here.


You do not need to be registered for HACU to participate in the workshops and the cost to attend is free.

To RSVP, please send a message including your name, institution and which sessions you’d like to attend to gilmanadvisors@iie.org.

We hope to see you there!

Wonder what it’s like to be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA)? Listen to Shiela Lee, 2008-2009, Fulbright ETA to Taiwan, discuss what her experience was like and how it has inspired her career choices.

Shiela Lee – to Taiwan, 2008 (ETA) from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

Fulbright Italian Style: Classroom, Community, and Culture, By Jessica Orton, 2010-2011, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Italy

During my Fulbright grant, I worked as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in three different schools: one in Rome and two in L’Aquila.  In each school, I played a slightly different assistant teaching role and covered a range of topics.  When conducting lessons on everything from American culture, to literary analysis, to practical English phrases and grammar, I had to constantly adapt as an assistant teacher.  The students viewed me as a cultural ambassador, which led to cultural exchanges on a daily basis.  Often, lesson plans became secondary to discussing current events such as the war in Libya or the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, where we could exchange Italian and American perspectives.

The most important aspect of my success as an ETA was in building relationships with students.  I created an encouraging classroom environment and as students became more comfortable and confident, I would often hear from teachers, “Wow, this student usually never speaks.”  My rapport with each class allowed students to take chances and let go of their inhibitions when speaking English or explaining their points of view.

My relationship with students also extended outside of the classroom.  In every school, I had the opportunity to organize community events for my students, such as walking together in the Race for the Cure and participating in a class trip from Rome to L’Aquila.  This last activity, where I took one of my classes from Rome to see and learn about L’Aquila’s current condition, was particularly important for my students.  The grim situation of L’Aquila’s city and people after the 2009 earthquake is not widely known in Italy, and my Roman students were legitimately shocked to see the city’s current state.  These opportunities to engage with my students in an informal setting fostered not only personal relationships, but also enhanced their self-confidence in public speaking.

While I had an amazing, positive experience in Italy, I still had to cope with early morning commutes to L’Aquila from Rome, organizational and bureaucratic issues, and the struggle to keep students motivated in class.  Yet, I also learned from these challenges and improved my ability to handle conflicts. Professionally and personally, I became more adaptable, creative, and more confident as a leader.  I learned new things every day: discussing topics with my students, attending cultural events in Rome, and simply chatting with Italian friends over coffee.  I want to offer my sincere appreciation to the Fulbright Program for truly building bridges between cultures.

To future Fulbright grantees, I would say believe consistently in your abilities, embrace new experiences, and don’t be afraid to take risks.  Be ready to adapt to new situations and challenges.  It’s amazing how often obstacles turn into opportunities.

Wonder how a Fulbright grant can help you professionally? Listen to Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Marylin Rodriguez’s (2008-2009, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Ecuador) story.

Marylin Rodriguez – to Uruguay, 2007 (ETA) from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

Answering Everyday Questions: A Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Experience in Jordan, By Emily Hagemeister, 2009-2010, Jordan

Since I completed my Fulbright Program, I have often been asked a variety of questions about my time living as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Amman, Jordan.  I find that people are curious about everyday life in other societies and, given recent events, particularly in the Middle East.  From September 2009 until June 2010, I experienced Jordanian culture and had multiple opportunities to share my story.  Everyone asks, “What was that like?” or “How was that?” with wide eyes.

Here are a few of my answers and tips for applicants…

Being a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantee helped me to become a more adaptable person both personally and professionally.  At one point, I thought that my Fulbright story was unusual because I originally applied for a Fulbright ETA grant in Egypt and ended up in Jordan.  The Egyptian Fulbright ETA Program was a better fit for my experience and skills but was canceled very late in the selection process.  A few of the Egypt ETAs, including myself, therefore, were diverted to Jordan.  Despite the long wait and transition, being placed in Jordan was great because it allowed me to reconnect with friends and professional contacts that I had made during my participation in the 2008 Critical Language Scholarship Summer Language Institute in Amman.

Talking to other Fulbrighters, I’ve come to realize that there is no typical path toward becoming a grantee.  Some applicants end up applying multiple times before being selected, some receive grants after being named alternates, and still others, like me, end up going to locations not mentioned in their applications.  Flexibility, persistence, and a sense of adventure are important when applying.

The Fulbright ETA Program offers an exciting opportunity to become a part of a community in a new country and share experiences.  At the Abdul Hamid Sharaf K-12 School, where I was placed, I worked side-by-side with a mix of Jordanian and expatriate teachers and assistant-taught students from a variety of countries.  I loved being able to share stories about my life in the United States and learning about the lives of my friends and students.  We talked about food, clothing, religion, politics, celebrities, cultural quirks, and so many other things.  I can honestly say that our similarities and differences helped to foster rich and lasting relationships.  Sharing your story and listening to others’ are big parts of being a successful Fulbright participant.

My time working on what I like to call my ‘unofficial program’ was equally as important as the time spent on my ‘official program.’  My ‘official program’ included teaching at my assigned school and studying conversational Arabic.  This is what the Statement of Grant Purpose in a Fulbright application covers.  Conversely, my ‘unofficial,’ but equally important, program included volunteering to teach English to Iraqi refugees, building meaningful friendships with people from other cultures, and using my skills in other ways to help my local host community.  You may not know what effect your ‘unofficial program’ will ultimately have, but this investment can make a tremendous difference in the lives of others long after you’ve left your host country.  A Fulbright U.S. Student Program experience can and, in my opinion, should be enriched by making giving back to your host community a priority.

From these answers, I offer the following pieces of advice to prospective applicants:

  • Flexibility, persistence, and a sense of adventure are all important applicant qualities.
  • Preparing to share your story should begin as early as the application process (remember, your story makes you unique as an applicant).
  • Spend time thinking about your ‘unofficial program’ and how you can give back to your host country.
  • Take time to enjoy the process…good luck!

Emily Hagemeister (center), 2009-2010, Jordan, posing with her first graders at the Abdul Hamid Sharaf School in Amman, Jordan.

Questions for Emily about her Fulbright experiences?  Feel free to email her at EHagemeister.AlumniAmbassador@fulbrightmail.org.