A Detroit worker mural by Diego Rivera
Having had some time to reflect on my Fulbright Millennial Trains Project experience, I have to say that it all seems like a blur. If I had to choose one word to describe it, I would say overwhelming, in the best way. It was overwhelming (and incredibly inspiring) being around so many people with so many ideas and plans. It was overwhelming to travel such a long distance in such a short amount of time. It was overwhelming to process so much new information each and every day. Even off the train, I continue to be overwhelmed by the experience, and hope to eventually be able to process and digest it, bit by bit. I know that many of the lessons I learned, and the advice I received, will continue to come to mind whenever I need it; I know that it will be stored in there for years to come.
One day, while on the back vestibule of the train, I spoke to some of the other participants about how I wished I could keep some moments alive forever so I could replay them when I needed to recall the way I felt that day, in that moment. Several of them agreed, but someone spoke of the importance of letting go, about how what makes these moment precious is the fact that they don’t last forever, because they are not meant to. I think that is important advice in trying to process this experience. I had so many encounters, so many conversations, learned so many lessons, that I know I will not be able to remember everything that happened. So, I have to trust that the right things will stay in my consciousness, and that they will be there when I feel the need to look back on them. As for the rest, I feel comfortable letting it go.
Schuyler Cowan, 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Germany and Reach the World Traveler
In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.
It is important to be able to view a situation or problem from more than one perspective. If you can think about how someone else might resolve a problem, then you may have an easier time solving it. This is why traveling and living abroad are such important experiences. Living in Germany has not only opened my eyes up to new perspectives, but it has also helped me form my own. This is especially true for my work as a language assistant in a German school.
When I first arrived at my school in Germany, I had an idea of what my experience would be like based on books I had read and movies I had seen. Some of these ideas reflected stereotypes about Germany. Stereotypes are popular ideas about places or people that are often exaggerated or wrong. Do you know what any of those stereotypes might have been? Think back to the interview I did with my colleagues, Klaudia and Jana. What did they say about Germans? One of these ideas was that all Germans are punctual. This means that they are always on time and they like discipline. I thought that the classroom environment would be very quiet and strict. I was in for a big surprise!
Are you putting the finishing touches on your Fulbright U.S. Student application and missed yesterday’s last minute questions webinar? Fear not! You can find all of our recorded webinars right here on our website. Have specific questions that need answering? Contact the appropriate Fulbright staff here. Good luck!
Michelle Grocke, 2014-2015, Nepal, harvesting bitter buckwheat crops between September and October. While at first she had to beg her host family to help, after a few days, every family in the village wanted her assistance as they quickly realized she was actually quite helpful!
For my Fulbright U.S. Student grant, I travelled to an area of Nepal that many locals and scholars alike call “the most remote district of Nepal.” Nestled high in the Himalaya, the villages in Humla District lie between 9,000 – 12,500 feet, and are not connected to the rest of the country by any roads. Humla is both ethnically and linguistically split as Nepali-speaking Hindus live in the south, while Tibetan-speaking Buddhists live in the north. The traditional diet of the ethnic Tibetans in Humla consists of local grains such as barley and buckwheat, a few roots and tubers such as the potato and daikon radish, and a high volume of yak butter tea. Given their nutrient-dense diet, Humlis have never suffered from diet-related disease such as diabetes and hypertension.
All of this is changing. The first “dirt” road in Humla is currently under construction, and is providing easy access to a market in China (formerly Tibet) where Humlis are now purchasing enriched, processed foods such as ramen noodles, white flour, and soda. The goal of my research was to assess how this new market access is impacting villagers’ health, specifically in terms of their food security, diet and nutrition, and subjective well-being.
Always accompanied by my local research assistant, who now has become like a younger brother to me, I walked five days from the District capital to reach my first field site village.
Fulbrighter Jarod Yong (right), Malaysia, with Millennial Trains Project Founder and Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumnus Patrick Dowd (left).
If I were to summarize my MTP journey into one word, it would be “affirmation.”
Prior to my Fulbright, I was a teacher at a secondary school deep within the jungles of Borneo. My students were children from one of the most marginalized people groups in my country. During those six years, I designed and initiated multiple education programs which aimed to holistically develop my students in ways that their homes or the school could never do.
Being a guest to the U.S., I am naturally curious about education programs that exist for children from marginalized communities in this country. Therefore, my project during the MTP journey involved visiting and learning from organizations working to bridge education disparities for at-risk communities in the U.S.
Teaching numbers: Christina Galardi, 2012-2013, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to South Korea, teaches a captive audience a counting lesson in English as part of an early childhood cognitive development program through iFuture at the University of Ulsan. Ulsan, South Korea
I’m staring at an IQ test with fear that my hard-earned college GPA will be put to shame.
During my winter break from my Fulbright English Teaching Assistant position, I worked for a month with a Korean professor who previously pursued a Fulbright grant in the United States with a venture company that develops child cognitive development programs. I started by taking the same diagnostic test used to assess children.
Thankfully, my test anxiety was resolved by a satisfactory score. The professor then handed me some research articles to familiarize myself with the Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment Program used by the company. As I sat down with the texts, I blew the dust from my academic machinery and flexed my intellectual muscles.
In a few months, I will lift the scholastic heavyweights again to pursue a master’s degree in public health following my return home to the United States. Perhaps it will take a little while to get back into my routine, but I don’t think my mental force will have atrophied.