James Kale, II, 2017-2018, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Brazil
Standing in the middle of the blacktop, watching my students play—the air brisk, the skies gray and the sun fighting to reveal itself—my pocket is furiously buzzing. I quickly grab my phone and remove it from my pocket in a panic, thinking it might be a parent calling or some emergency.
While unlocking my phone, I see that there are two emails and a text message exclaiming, “Congratulations!” from two of my Fulbright recommenders and the Boston College Graduate School Fulbright Program Adviser. In wide-eyed amazement, I quickly scroll through my email, looking for a message from the Fulbright Program. To my surprise, I received a gift, a surprise on my birthday. For the very first time, one of my dreams had come to life.
I am James Kale, II, and I will soon be embarking on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Brazil!
A candid moment from the Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Lecturer Thuy-Anh T. Nguyen (second from left) with fellow Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants
Editor’s note: Did you celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States or abroad this year as a Fulbrighter? We’d love to hear your story! Send us a note or share it on social media with #Fulbright.
A Bangladeshi, an Italian, a Thai, an Indian, an elderly Filipino couple, and three Vietnamese people sat down for dinner at a Vietnamese-American house. This may sound like the start of a clichéd joke, but this was exactly what my first-ever Thanksgiving feast looked like.
This year, thanks to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program (FLTA), I had the opportunity to be in the United States for this one-of-a-kind celebration. I had heard and learned about Thanksgiving through the Internet over the years, and I grew up looking at sumptuous Thanksgiving meal illustrations in Archie comics; where the biggest, juiciest turkey and other mouthwatering foods were served.
Katherine Long, 2016-2017, Tajikistan (right), playing a game with two young Tajik girls.
For nearly ten years, Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) have had the opportunity to volunteer with Reach the World (RTW) to share their experiences abroad with pre-kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms back home in the United States.
RTW utilizes the power of virtual exchange to enable Fulbright ETAs, who apply to volunteer with RTW, to bring their host country into an engaged classroom of American students. Fulbright ETAs share many aspects of life in another country with their student audiences in the United States, from grilled meats in Argentina to the unique plant life in the Maltese archipelago. These talented, passionate recent college graduates and early career professionals also capture rare, extraordinary experiences, like visiting the remote Caño Cristales river in Colombia. As young learners from throughout the United States interact with Fulbright ETAs, they are building vital global competencies that will serve them for years to come while challenging their perspectives about the world and their role as citizens. These global competencies include such things as increased geographic literacy and a greater desire to travel, changes in empathetic thinking when encountering difference, and pursuing higher education opportunities.
In honor of International Education Week 2017, the Fulbright Program congratulates the 15 colleges and universities who achieved their first-ever #Fulbright U.S. Student Program Finalists for the 2017-2018 competition.
The Fulbright Program continuously seeks to expand the number of institutions that benefit from the many Fulbright opportunities that are available, and we are proud to celebrate the success of these institutions, their Fulbright recipients, and the faculty and staff who help mentor and guide them in their applications.
To review the list of this year’s first-ever Fulbright U.S. Student Program Finalist institutions, please click on the video below. Congratulations once again to this year’s schools!
Christine Keung, 2014-2015, China
“It was New Year’s Eve, and my Central Asian dorm mates all chipped in to buy a whole sheep. It’s a common Central Asian tradition to sacrifice a sheep to celebrate a big event, and given the fact that many of my international dorm’s residents were Muslim, the sheep had to be prepared to Halal standards…”
Such was how 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Student to China, Christine Keung, celebrated holidays in Shaanxi province during her award in Environmental Studies, where she worked closely with local university students to improve the region’s urban and rural waste practices.
Since completing her Fulbright award, Christine Keung has been named a 2016 Young Laureate by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, a 2017 Time Magazine Next Generation Leader, and gained admission to the MBA program at Harvard University.
We recently interviewed Christine to learn more about how her Fulbright experiences have had an impact on her career trajectory, what advice she has for prospective Fulbright applicants, and how she has maintained strong ties with the friends and professional contacts she established while in China.
How did you originally hear about the Fulbright Program and what/who inspired you to apply?
I first learned about the Fulbright Program during my freshman year at Wellesley College. I had a Teaching Assistant who had been a Fulbrighter in Spain who encouraged me to apply before I graduated. As a first-year student who had not yet selected her major, who had never worked as a research assistant, and who had never studied abroad, I really couldn’t imagine myself as a Fulbright Student. It wasn’t until my junior year that I seriously considered applying for opportunities to live and work abroad after graduation. I had spent the summer after my sophomore year on a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant that allowed me to conduct independent research on China’s Loess Plateau. That trip allowed me to visit Western China for the first time and to form many of the relationships that helped make my Fulbright project a reality.
Steven A. Vickers, Jr., 2015-2016, Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Latvia, giving a lecture on American culture at Daugavpils University, Latvia.
One of my favorite animated films tells the tale of a mouse with a dream to become a chef. Everyone thinks him crazy, but he strives towards his goal and proves to himself and those around him that anyone can, indeed, cook. My journey to becoming a 2015-2016 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to Latvia played out much the same. I am not what many would consider the “typical” Fulbright recipient. Many, including some professors, thought me crazy to even apply for the prestigious award. Well, I sure did prove them wrong.
You see, I did not graduate high school and immediately enter a university as is expected of my generation. My family could not afford the living expenses my scholarships failed to cover, and I could not shake my intense desire to serve my country. So, my path took me to Parris Island, South Carolina and the United States Marine Corps; that path came to an abrupt conclusion when I found myself medically unfit to continue serving. At that point, I did as my father before me and entered the police force. I enjoyed being a police officer, but I always regretted not getting a degree. The demanding schedule of a police officer made attending school incredibly difficult. I decided to end my police career, worked a few random jobs, and enrolled in Faulkner State Community College at the age of twenty-seven. When I completed enough credits, I transferred to Auburn University.